Mineral Interest Probate:
Often a property is inherited but title is not in the name of the heirs. Generally, a company will require a probate before oil companies begin paying royalties. Or, a buyer will make probate a title requirement. Very often, the process is simple for the heirs. It is also rare that any heir is needed to make a court appearance or travel to Oklahoma. Finally, many times a mineral only probate is eligible for a summary process which saves time and money. Start Online Probate Interview
Flat Fee Probate
Uncontested mineral probates rarely require payment of claims, opening bank accounts or other time consuming activities. Due to the known steps we usually provide these services on a flat rate. That way the client knows the complete cost before proceeding.
No Need to Travel to Oklahoma
It is extremely rare that a client would need to travel to Oklahoma for any reason. Transactions can be completed through telephone calls, email and regular mail.
Probates Handled Quickly
A mineral probate can normally be concluded within 60 to 90 days of the date that the case is filed. Much is dependent upon the court’s availability.
If your relative did not have a Will, the heirs still have the ability to inherit the property. Oklahoma’s intestacy statutes provide the way for spouses, children, grandchildren or other relatives to inherit even if no Will can be found.
Client’s Role is to Provide Information, Sign a Few Documents, We Handle the Rest
The client’s roll in the probate is to provide names and addresses of heirs, information about the person who died and information about the Oklahoma assets. We prepare the court documents, file the pleading, set the hearings, mail and publish notices and attend hearings.
Ancillary and Summary Probate Cases
If a probate has been completed in another state, it may be possible to use an Ancillary or Summary Probate to quickly distribute the minerals to the heirs.
Its there Time Limit to File a Probate?
No, a probate can be started decades after someone has died.
As it relates to a person who stands to inherit property, it is a process by which title to property is transferred from the deceased owner to his or her heirs or according to a Will.
Simply put, it has to do with jurisdiction. A court of one state does not have authority over real property (including mineral interest) in another. Therefore, a court outside of Oklahoma cannot award title. Only an Oklahoma Court can do that.
A trust avoids probate only if property is transferred to the trustee prior to death. If an interest is titled in the name of the decedent, instead of a trust, then probate will be required. Typically, those with trusts also create a will. This will instructs the probate court to transfer assets to the trust.
It is not uncommon for a company to take certain risks in order to secure a lease because it provides it with valuable rights. However, if there is production a “division order analyst” will examine the title to the property. If there are defects, such as an unprobated estate, the analyst will place payment of royalties in suspense. This means that the monies will be held until the title issue is resolved.
In Oklahoma, an affidavit of heirship must meet five criteria to be deemed to provide “marketable title”.[i] The biggest hurdle is the requirements is that an affidavit must be on file for 10 years. Therefore, it is usually best to go forward with a probate if royalties are in suspense.
There are several components that make up the expenses related to a probate. These are:
- Filing fees
- Publication Fees
- Attorney fees
- Recording fees
Often attorneys are willing to probate mineral interests on a flat fee basis. That means the expenses listed above are rolled. Into one price.
Generally, this is available if there has already been a probate in another state. It requires certain documents from the original court. Once these are assembled, then the process is very quick.
If there has not been a probate, generally a shortened “summary probate” procedure is used. It is available if:
- The decedent has been dead five or more years; or
- The decedent lived outside Oklahoma at his or her death; or
- The value of property within Oklahoma is valued at $200,000 or less.
For the client, there is really no difference. The summary probate requires a slightly longer timeframe and requires slightly different publication requirements. In short, it is something that the attorney, as opposed to the client, handles.
While we would love to have you, the answer is no. It is extremely rare that anybody other than the attorney need attend a hearing. Paperwork can be handled through mail or email.
This depends upon the case but a safe timeline is 90 days from the date the case is filed.
Oklahoma abolished its estate tax beginning January 1, 2010. For those who died prior to 2010, often a release can be obtained or the tax expired due to the lapse of time.
Federal estate taxes are rarely an issue since the taxable amount begins at relatively high levels.
Why Won’t and Affidavit of Heirship Work in Oklahoma?
An an heir using an affidavit of heirship is not immediately recognized as the owner of minerals in Oklahoma In fact, the affidavit must be filed for 10 years before it is recognized as establishing “marketable title” in the heirs. While companies may occasionally accept these when leasing but rarely rely upon them when paying royalties.
[i] 17-O.S. §67(C) says: . In order to establish marketable title pursuant to this section:
- The affidavit or recital must state that the decedent died without a will, or if the decedent had a will, that the will was never probated in Oklahoma and a copy of the will is attached to the affidavit or recital, or if the will was probated that the severed mineral interest was omitted from the final decree of the decedent and a copy of the will and final decree is attached to the affidavit or recital;
- The affidavit or recital must list the names of the decedent’s heirs and their relationship to the decedent;
- The affidavit or recital must state that the maker is related to the decedent or otherwise has personal knowledge of the facts stated therein;
- The affidavit or the title transaction that contains the recital must have been recorded for at least ten (10) years in the office of the county clerk in the county in which the real property is located; and
- During the ten-year period following the recording of the affidavit or the title transaction that contains the recital, no instrument inconsistent with the heirship alleged in the affidavit or recital was filed in the office of the county clerk in the county in which the real property is located.