Photo of Ned Segelken

Ned co-chairs the Trust, Estate Planning and Personal Wealth Practice Group at Porter Wright and has engaged in the practice of trust and estate law since his graduation from the University of Michigan Law School in 1984. He has handled a wide variety of matters, including complex estate administration and business succession matters.

You are interested in acquiring a gas lease on certain parcel. When you look at the real property records, however, you discover the record owner is deceased. Now what do you do? Who owns the interests? How do you evidence this ownership?

This issue might be best discussed in the context of an example. Roger Farmer sold his farm, located in Muskingum County, Ohio, in 1978 and retained the mineral interests. That is, Roger “severed” the mineral interest from the rest of the property. He died in 1995 without transferring those interests. He left a will, admitted to probate in Franklin County, Ohio, which left all his property, real and personal, to his son, John.

John died in 2002, also without transferring the interests. There is no record of any will being admitted to probate, or of the administration of his estate. To determine the current owners of the mineral interest, we have to analyze Roger’s will and John’s family situation.
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