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What exactly is Probate?

Probate is a legal process where a court determines that someone is deceased and who will receive his or her property after it is administered.

What do I need to do to Get a Probate Started?

This starts with a telephone call or by completing an interview. Click here for Interview. We’ll visit to determine what is needed. In a typical case there is no need to travel to my office or the court. We can communicate through email and mail to deal with the necessary paperwork. Usually, there are only a few documents that the client will need to review and sign.

Why is Probate Required for Oil and Gas?

In Oklahoma mineral such as Oil and Gas are considered real estate.  Often individuals would sell the surface rights to their property but keep the mineral rights.  They did so because they realized that someday those property interests may become valuable.  Sometimes, many generations later oil and gas development occurs, and the decedents need to prove up their inheritance through probate to get paid. Probate is a way to get the royalties paid to you.

Is Probate Difficult?

A probate case can be very simple with the right attorney.  Basically, the client provides information about the person who died, who survived him or her, what property they owned and whether there were any creditors.  The attorney prepares the paperwork for the client to review and sign.

Do I Have to Travel to Oklahoma or Appear in Probate Court?

No, except in rare cases.  Often the client can receive and return various items by mail.  The attorney can handle any appearances.  The exception would be if the case becomes contested.

What if my Relative Didn’t Have a Will, Can I Still Probate the Estate?

A probate case can be handled if the person did or did not have a Will.  If there was no Will, the distributions are determined by Oklahoma intestacy statutes.

How Long Does a Probate Take to Complete?

Often a “summary probate procedure” can be used.  This is available if any of the following apply: The person didn’t live in Oklahoma at the time of death; or The person has been dead more than 5 years; or The estate is valued at $200,000 or less.

In these cases, the time-frame is usually 60-80 days depending upon the availability of the court.  Otherwise, a standard probate may be required which can take six or more months to complete.

What if the Estate has been Probated in Another State?  What is an Ancillary Probate?

If the mineral rights are in Oklahoma, another state’s court does not have authority (jurisdiction) to transfer them.  Therefore, and Oklahoma probate is required, even if, there was a probate in another state.  Often an Ancillary Probate procedure can be used which shortens the timeline to about 50 days.  Procedure is available if the home state probate case is concluded and certain orders were filed there.[1]

Is there a Statute of Limitations to File Probate in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma does not have a Statute of Limitations to file a probate. However, doing so promptly can avoid monies being paid to a state’s unclaimed property fund.

How Much Does a Probate Cost?

Most mineral probate cases qualify for a flat rate which includes court costs, publication fees, mailing copying and attorney’s fees. We can quote a price for an uncontested probate.

I Filed an Affidavit of Heirship, why do I Need a Probate?

In Oklahoma an Affidavit of Heirship can create title in the heirs.  However, there are many requirements, the biggest stumbling block  but only after it has been recorded at least ten years with the County Clerk were the minerals are located and during that 10-year period not instrument inconsistent with affidavit has been filed of record.  Therefore, few companies paying royalties are willing to rely upon an Affidavit of Heirship unless 10 years have passed.

What does Royalty Payments in Suspense or Payments on Hold Mean and How Can a Probate Help?

This means that the royalties or other payments have been calculated and set aside until the title of the person entitled to receive them has been established.  Often this means an Oklahoma probate.  A company may use a Division Order Analyst who determines what “title requirements” are needed to put royalties into “pay status”. 

We Have Minerals in Several Oklahoma Counties, Will I Have to File Probate in Each County?

No. The probate court case only needs to be filed in one county. Once an order distributing the estate is entered by the judge, then copies of the order (or a notice of it) may be filed in the remaining counties. This has the same effect as if the executor deeded the minerals to the heirs.

My or My Relative’s Funds are held by the Oklahoma Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division or listed in the Mineral Owners Escrow Account.  How do I claim these?

Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office/Unclaimed Property (405) 521-4275 or online www.ok.gov/treasurer/Unclaimed_Property/index.html.

They will inform you if a probate or an affidavit is sufficient to claim the funds. The Treasurer is very careful about disbursement of funds to claimants. Due to past fraudulent claims, the department requires several documents to be provided.


What if I have more than one Estates, can they be joined in a single joint administration case?

Sometimes there is a need to take care of two or more estates in order to get minerals into the name of the rightful heirs.  While this may seem like a daunting task, it can often be accomplished in one case.  For example, if grandfather owned mineral and died, then his daughter died.  Neither had a probate done for their estates.  Oklahoma law allows multiple estates to be administered in one case.    

In this case the living grandchildren would inherit through their line.

What are the Advantages of Jointly Administered Probate Cases?

  • Court Costs:  The filing fee for a single or joint probate case is the same.
  • Publication Costs:  Probate cases require publication.  A joint probate is almost ½ the cost of filing two separate probate cases.

[1] The requirement would be order admitting the will to probate and an order distributing the estate from the home state probate proceeding, or if the decedent died intestate, by attaching a duly certified copy of the order appointing the personal representative and an order distributing estate from the home state probate estate.  58 O.S. § 677.


Hear interview from Mineral Rights Podcast:

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