How to Transfer the Names on an Inheritance of a Gas Well

By David Carnes

In most countries, mineral rights belong to the government. In the United States, however, mineral rights, including rights to underground oil deposits, generally belong to whoever owns the surface of the land. Mineral rights can be severed -- in other words, a landowner may sell or lease mineral rights while retaining ownership and possession of the surface. Ownership of mineral rights, like other real estate interests, is represented by a title deed. If you are an executor of an estate from which an heir is inheriting mineral rights, you must transfer title to the mineral rights from the decedent's estate to the heir.

Step 1

Locate the current mineral deed. If the mineral rights to the land have never been sold separately from the surface, however, there will be no mineral rights deed. In this case, the decedent's real estate deed represents ownership of both the surface and any oil deposits underneath.

Step 2

Execute a title search at the local land recorder's office to confirm that the current landowner actually owns the oil rights he is purporting to convey, and to confirm that they are not subject to any encumbrance such as a lease, a mortgage or a tax lien. Title searches are performed at the county land records office, usually by property attorneys or title insurance companies. The expenses of a title search count as estate administration expenses and should be paid for by the estate.

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Step 3

Draft a mineral deed. The deed should name the decedent's estate as the grantor and the heir as the grantee. It should also contain a legal description of the oil rights to be transferred. This description should include a description of the surface land -- typically contained in the current real estate deed or mineral deed -- along with a specific description of the rights to be transferred. It should also grant the mineral rights owner the right to enter onto the land and perform whatever acts may be necessary to extract the oil underneath. This will give the heir the right to enter the land and operate the oil well on the surface. The signature line should identify you by name and by title as executor of the decedent's estate.

Step 4

Prepare the deed in duplicate. Sign and date both copies in the presence of a notary public, and give one copy to the heir.

Step 5

File the second copy of the deed with the local land recorder's office. If there is a filing fee, pay it out of estate funds and record it as an estate administrative expense.

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Probate Court for Heirs in Mineral Rights

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A quitclaim deed conveys title to New Hampshire real estate without the guarantees typically included in a warranty deed. Quitclaim deeds are often used to convey real estate between family members or in a New Hampshire divorce when one spouse relinquishes title to the other as part of a marital property settlement. Quitclaim deeds are fairly simple, but mistakes happen. A quitclaim deed may be changed or corrected in New Hampshire by executing a new, corrected deed.

What Is an Executor Deed?

An executor’s deed is used to transfer real property from the estate of a deceased person to an heir pursuant to the terms of a will. It is similar to an administrative deed, which is used when a person dies without a will. The executor of an estate is the person appointed in the will to marshal the deceased's assets, determine what debts and liabilities need to be paid out of estate funds and ultimately distribute the assets to designated heirs or beneficiaries.

What Is an Heir Affidavit?

In many cases, a person dies without a will, or the will is declared invalid by a probate court. In such cases, distribution of the decedent's property proceeds under the state's intestate succession laws. If the decedent owned real estate, the estate must transfer title to the real estate to the rightful heirs. An heir affidavit is a document containing sworn statements designed to prove that the person named in the affidavit is a legitimate heir under state law. This permits title to real estate -- and in some states, personal property -- to be transferred to that heir.

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