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Keep the peace be establishing trusts for mineral rights

If your family owned land where there was oil or gas beneath the surface, no matter if the property changed hands numerous times, the mineral rights may be preserved for future generations.

This can be a very lucrative source of income for heirs, which is why many choose to include clauses in their wills stating that only the blood relatives could inherit these rights. The problem is, that may not be sufficient in some circumstances.

Consider the case of a woman who bequeathed the royalties from mineral rights to her adult daughter upon her death. In her will, she specified that only descendants of that bloodline could inherit those mineral rights.

The woman had three children, and one died intestate with no spouse or children. With his mother dead and him having no descendants, his dad then inherited the mineral rights even though he was not a blood relative from the original lineage.

If dad remarried, or had children from a previous union, his spouse or kids could then inherit his portion of those rights, thwarting the original plan of keeping them for blood relatives of the original owner.

While to some that might not be a big deal, it's enough to start a rip-roaring family feud. But there is a simple way to prevent this from ever occurring.

Retaining a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to draw up a trust specifying that only heirs from the original bloodline were eligible to inherit these rights protects the royalties for future generations to come. It also eliminates the possibility of angry family members falling out over an inheritance, which can be the kindest behest of all.

Source: The Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal, "All in the Family," Marlene S. Cooper, Feb. 01, 2017

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