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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience:  Estate Law Expert
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The State of Alabama is holding "unclaimed" money paid in by

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The State of Alabama is holding "unclaimed" money paid in by El Paso Oil & Gas in the name of my paternal grandfather. These monies were paid in years after my grandfather's death with no obvious attempt (only claims) to find the rightful owner of the royalites. El Paso O&G was bought by Quantum Resources. After my dad's recent passing, extended family in Louisiana received a letter looking for the rightful owner. It made it's way to us (the children). We contacted Quantum and were told that the monies were paid to the State of Alabama treasury. It should be noted that Quantum paid our dad and now us royalties on other properties with no issues and is now paying us current royalties on the lease in question here. We filed a claim with the state of Alabama treasury and provided my grandfathers' and fathers' death certificates, judement of possession, a letter from Quantum acknowleding that the money was rightfully ours - every document and proof of ownership they outlined on their claim form. We promptly received a letter of denial saying that we would need a judge to appoint us executer's of my grandfather's will ?????? Seriously and a letter from El Paso O&G acknowledging that the money is ours. We did provide the letter from the company that bought El Paso O&G. They are playing games. What recourse do we have?

Dwayne B. :

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Dwayne B. :

Are you asking what you need to do to get the monies being held?

Dwayne B. :

It looks like the chat function may be acting up. I am going to exit and see if it fixes the problem. I will still be online and on the website so when you reply I will see it and reenter Chat.

Customer:

Yes. Basically. I really don't believe we should be required to request that a judge made us executers of my grandfathers will when we can show a chain of proof of ownership - from him to my dad (exclusivly) to us. I've checked their website to try to find this as a "law" or "rule" and it doesn't appear anywhere. I do worry about the time limit on the claim - which has not been mentioned. The only reason it has been this long - my grandfather died in 1987 and the royalties were paid from 2006 to present - we contacted them as soon as we were made aware.

Dwayne B. :

Can you see what I am typing now?

Customer:

I can see it.

Dwayne B. :

Great.

Dwayne B. :

Let me see if I can explain why they are saying that.

Dwayne B. :

The issue here is that the State has no idea who the "rightful heirs" to your grandfather's property are. By being appointed as executors it allows the State to pay the money to the Estate and then for the court to determine who it should belong to.

Customer:

The rightful heir to my grandfather's property was my father. We showed the judement of possession to my father and then my father's judegement of possession to us. We also have a copy of both willls - my grandfather's will showing that my dad was only heir. I don't understand why that isn't good enough.

Dwayne B. :

Without some type of probate the funds don't actually belong to the heirs, they belong to The Estate.

Customer:

Doesn't the judgement of possession come from the probate court.

Dwayne B. :

A will is just a piece of paper until a court has admitted it to probate and made a finding that it was actually the will of the deceased.

Dwayne B. :

A judgment of possession can come from a number of courts.

Dwayne B. :

How was this one obtained?

Customer:

Both were obtained from a probate court.

Dwayne B. :

From a probate court in Alabama?

Customer:

No. We don't even understand how Alabama got involved. The land is in Louisiana. My grandfather never lived in Alabama. The only thing we can think is that El Paso Production Company's office was there.

Customer:

The State of Alabama did not have an address for my grandfather. They didn't even have an address for the company - just the city and state.

Dwayne B. :

That is the most likely reason.

Dwayne B. :

What state court issued the judgment of possession?

Customer:

Both my grandfather and father's will's were probated in both Texas and Louisiana. I don't have the Judgement's with me so I'm really not sure.

Dwayne B. :

And were they issued in both your father's and grandfather's probates?

Customer:

Yes.

Dwayne B. :

The State of Alabama should recognize the orders of the probate court due to what is known as "full faith and credit". However, if they are refusing to then the next step if you don't want to open a probate there (which really shouldn't be necessary) is to file the orders with the probate court and ask that the court recognize them as "foreign judgments" and then enter an order officially recognizing them. It is known as "domesticating a judgment".

Customer:

Now that's what I'm talking about. Is this something we can do with legal forms or do we have to hire a lawyer?

Dwayne B. :

I don't know of any forms available anywhere for that so you probably want to hire a lawyer.

Customer:

No offense. Love lawyers. But we have no idea how much money is due to us. It'd be silly to spend a dollar to get 10 cents.

Dwayne B. :

It is relatively simple for an attorney to do and shouldn't cost a bunch.

Dwayne B. :

I certainly understand that.

Customer:

Ok. Thank you for that.

Dwayne B. :

You could possibly sue the company that deposited the money with the state for the attorney's fees it will cost under the theory that not only did they not really try and find who it goes to but deposited the money with a state that forced you to incur additional fees and which they knew wasn;t really the proper sttae.

Dwayne B. :

If you have a local lawyer they could write them a letter and threaten to do that if the company doesn't help resolve the issue by having their own lawyers do the work.

Dwayne B. :

I'm not saying it would work but it would be worth a shot.

Customer:

That's an option. I'm going to try to find out when Quantum bought the rights. Apparently they didn't buy El Paso Production - just the rights to this lease. That's all I needed, really. You've given me plenty of information to work with. I'm satisfied. Thank you.

Dwayne B. :

You're very welcome. I hope it works out well for y'all. I'll exit now to assist others if you don't have anything else.

Dwayne B. :

Best wishes to you on this and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating (of course I’d suggest Excellent!) so I get credit for my work. Also, I’d ask you to consider issuing a high rating (9-10) when you receive your customer satisfaction survey as that ensures I can continue to assist people in this category.

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Thank you very much for the Positive Rating. Please come back and visit us if you have any new questions and feel free to ask for me by placing “FOR DWAYNE B” in the subject line or as the first words of your question and I will pick up as soon as I see it.

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