DEAR HARRY: My grandmother owns a farm in Texas. She recently was contacted by an oil-speculating company looking to buy the oil and mineral rights to her land. She didn't even know what these were, or if there really is oil under her ground. Her sisters, who own adjacent land, also were contacted. One of them sold her rights for $6,000 without doing any investigating. Of course, my grandmother wants to know if she could be a new millionaire like the Beverly Hillbillies. The company negotiators tell her that she'll have a limited time to decide, but I think that may be just sales pressure. What should be our course of action?
WHAT HARRY SAYS: First of all, ask her not to rush to sell. If the oil is there, it will be there next week or next year. I suggest that she retain a lawyer to look into the possibility of other potential buyers. The fact that speculators are willing to pay for her rights may create interest among some of the major oil companies. A good lawyer may be able to start a bidding war for those rights. If oil is discovered on her sister's property, it will increase the competition for your grandmother's rights. If that happens, your grandmother may yet be a female version of Jed Clampett.
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