An unusual will…
By Mark Cannon, Wills & Probate Solicitor
A letter drops on your mat. It is a creamy, weighty envelope with a typed address. This is not the milk bill, or an invitation to buy a conservatory. This is from Coles Solicitors, and as you read it, you learn that it is good news. Great-Aunt Doris has remembered you in her will! What might it be? Has she got an old Aston Martin in the garage, or a Chinese bowl, or a gold ingot tucked under the bed? No, is the answer, because it is nearly always a piece of jewellery with a micro-diamond last worn in 1944, or a piano stool.
However, over the last few months we have been dealing with an old will which gave away an oil well in Texas. It’s fair to say that none of the seven solicitors in Coles Private Client had dealt with an oil well before; and, in fact, it turned out that there were five of them. You could even look at them on a Texan Oil Well Map. The well is a “nodding donkey”, but it had recently begun to run dry after many years of productive life. The Texan business rates were now eating up all the revenue, but with a new owner, who knew what they might do in the future?
Coles contacted several Texan “attorneys”, but none was willing to act. Coles staff racked their brains to think of contacts who might have emigrated, and we chatted with attorneys in tall buildings in New York. Eventually, an English based search company (they find missing heirs) put us in touch with a Texan “Land Man” who has just sold one of the five wells – it fetched less than a decent night out in Redcar. Four more to go…..