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San Jacinto News Times - Local News

Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

County fighting for mineral rights to bequeathed property

 

COLDSPRING – San Jacinto County is the beneficiary of property that could include mineral rights currently valued at over $1 million, which has initiated a court battle between the county and the benefactor's nephew. According to San Jacinto County Criminal District Attorney Richard Countiss, former Harris County resident Jack Polk died April 19, 2012, leaving his real property in San Jacinto County to the county with the stipulation that the real property be used for a park; provided, however, "that this gift shall lapse if San Jacinto County does not undertake to use the property gifted for a park." Polk's real property in San Jacinto County includes about 12 acres on Hwy. 150 East that backs up to Big Creek near Shepherd and about 300 acres of land in the Magnolia Community of San Jacinto County. San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner values the real property on Hwy. 150 at about $60,000 to $70,000. There are productive oil wells on the 300 acres located in Magnolia Community with a current value of more than $1 million in royalties, which has created a court battle in Harris County concerning what is actually intended as real property versus surface property, along with another battle about where the case will be heard. Polk's nephew, George, is also a beneficiary of Polk's will and the independent executor of Polk's estate. He is arguing that his uncle did not intend to will the mineral interests and the corresponding royalty interests and payments associated with the mineral interests and is asking the Harris County Probate Court that the mineral interests owned by Polk in San Jacinto County not be included in the specific bequest to San Jacinto County as a result of the required condition that such "real property" be used for a park. "It's related to the interpretapretation of Polk's will," according to George. "The mineral interests were not to be included as "real property." The will states, "I give my real property in San Jacinto County, Texas to San Jacinto County, Texas to be used for a park." George is seeking a declaration from the court finding that the term "real property" as used in Polk's will does not include the mineral interests and the corresponding royalty interests and payments associated with such mineral interests and that the mineral interests owned by Polk in San Jacinto County, Texas cannot be included in the specific bquest to the county as a result of the required condition that such "real property" be used for a park. "George sued San Jacinto County. The law states that an action against a county shall be brought in that county," Countiss said. Disagreeing, George responded by stating, "Any cause of action related to a probate proceeding pending in a statutory probate court is proper in the statutory probate court in which the decedent's estate is pending." At this point, Countiss said he filed a motion to have the case transferred to San Jacinto County. His request was denied by Harris County Probate Judge Christine Butts who said the case was staying in Harris County. However, a court of criminal appeals ruled in favor of Countiss and his attempt to get the case transferred to San Jacinto County. "The case will be moving here," Countiss said. "We've partially won and will eventually totally win." This means that San Jacinto County will have a park and the money from the mineral interests will help fund the upkeep, Countiss said. "Getting the legal issues and court case settled could take about one year," Faulkner said

 

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