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Estate Planning Part 2: Tools

In Part One of this series, we discussed the importance and main objectives of estate planning, both during life and after death: to ensure that a person’s wishes and directives are clear, that their estate is protected, and property distribution complications are avoided. In Part Two, we will consider two common tools available to further those ends...
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Estate Planning Part 1: Objectives

Although it may not be the most enjoyable task, the importance of planning ahead for the management of your estate at death or in the event of untimely incapacitation cannot be understated. With wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives and other estate planning tools, a person can ensure that their loved ones are left with a clear plan for managing...
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Caselaw Update: Cost-Free Royalty Provisions and BlueStone Natural Resources II, LLC v. Randle

It has become increasingly common for modern oil and gas lease forms and addenda to include a “cost-free” royalty provision – but as the Texas Supreme Court stated in Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. v. Hyder, 483 S.W.3d 870 (Tex. 2016), “lease drafters are not always driven by logic,” and such provisions do not always effectively reflect the parties’ intent.  It is...
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Update: The Texas Defense Task Force

In our last post, we discussed the GLO’s announcement of the formation of the Texas Defense Task Force (“Task Force”), which was organized to identify and defend against federal overreach which threatens the Texas oil and gas economy. Kuiper Law Firm reached out to the General Land Office (“GLO”) to gain more insight into the goals, strategy, and composition of the Task Force. As promised, this post...
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The Texas Defense Task Force

On February 8, 2021, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the formation of the Texas Defense Task Force, designed “to identify federal overreach and to fend off threats to the Texas oil and gas economy.” The Task Force will operate within the GLO to pose legal challenges to federal policies which threaten the industry.   The announcement is a direct response to the actions of the newly elected Biden administration. According to the Federal Register (1), since taking...
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Bankruptcy Update: The Reinvigoration of Texas’ Southern District

Over the past year, bankruptcy filings have surged in response to the economic disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes to the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA) and the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act encouraged the trend among small businesses by making restructuring easier and less expensive. The surge in filings in the Southern District of Texas has been even more exaggerated due to changes to the bankruptcy docket.   In 2016, Houston’s Southern District began to assign all complex bankruptcy...
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Caselaw Update: Recommitting to the Rule of Capture in Pennsylvania

Recent litigation in Pennsylvania threatened to open the door for mineral trespass claims arising from fracking operations. Success in this endeavor would have created a significant and potentially influential minority rule governing the extraction of minerals in gas-rich Pennsylvania. In a win for the industry, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently reconfirmed the rule of capture’s application to natural resource recovery regardless of the drilling techniques used.  Under the rule of capture, producers are generally not held accountable for recovery of oil and gas...
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Pennsylvania Title Wash – Part Two

In Part Two of our examination of Pennsylvania title wash issues, we consider several recent cases which particularly apply to the lands formerly owned by Thomas Proctor, but set precedent for understanding the issues of title washing across the state.  Recall from Part One of this series that Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company (“CPLC”) and its successors claimed title to...
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Pennsylvania Title Washing – Part One

Title washing is a highly contested, complicated issue unique to Pennsylvania. After the American Revolution, the State of Pennsylvania sold large tracts of land in northern and central parts of the state to cover wartime expenses. These out-of-state owners were difficult to locate and often failed to pay taxes on the land. In response, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation requiring owners of interests in “unseated” land to provide county commissioners with a description of the land, including any oil and gas severance thereon. (1) (2) (3) The legislation shifted the tax from...
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2021 Update: COVID-19 OSHA Safety Guidance for Employers

On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance for employers on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The OSH Act requires employers to provide “a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious harm.” The guidance is intended to help employers identify COVID-19 exposure...
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