If you are like most people who inherit mineral rights , you have no idea where to start looking for information.
You might have inherited your minerals from a relative that kept poor records or perhaps you didn’t even know you owned mineral interest until a landman contacted you, offering to lease your minerals.
Even if you inherited your mineral from a well-organized relative, the topic may be new and unfamiliar to you.
Let’s start by locating the legal description, which will help you find the property on an interactive map. Once you’ve found your property, you can explore the wells in which you own interest as well as the oil and gas activity in the surrounding area.
4 Steps to Locating Your Mineral Rights
1. Find Your Legal Description
You’ll need the legal description to locate your property. The legal description is not the same as the physical address.
2. Locate the Property using a GIS
Each state’s oil and gas regulatory agency has an online GIS that can be used to locate a property via a legal description.
3. View the Wells
Once you have located your minerals, you can see the wells on your property as well as the offset activity in nearby tracts of land.
4. Record the Information on a Spreadsheet
Use a Mineral Management spreadsheet to keep records of what you own (interest and wells)
Finding the Legal Description
A legal description is a way of describing the geographical location of a property’s boundaries and is used for real estate transactions, including oil & gas contracts. A legal description is not the same as a property address.
Legal descriptions vary from state to state and can differ greatly when referring to many acres of land or small urban lots.
How Do I Locate the Legal Description?
If you inherited an interest in a producing oil or gas lease, the legal description should be available by:
- Looking up your relative’s name on the county appraisal district’s website
- Viewing signed or proposed oil and gas leases or division orders
- Calling the company that sends royalty checks to ask for the legal description.
Using a GIS Viewer
Each state’s regulatory agency uses a slightly different Graphical Information System (GIS) viewer. To find your state’s public GIS viewer, google “[your state] oil and gas GIS”. Or, if your property is located in the top 9 oil and gas producing states, you can find the GIS listed below.
Oil and Gas GIS Viewers all work in the same general way. There should be some way to search based on a combination of the county and the following information from your legal description. In many states, is this is called the Public Land Survey System (PLSS).
Once you have located your inherited mineral rights, it’s easy to see which wells, if any are located in your property and even the wells and drilling activity in the surrounding area.
You can even overlay this map with geology maps or drilling activity maps to see if your mineral rights are located in an active area.
GIS Viewers for the Top Oil & Gas Producing States
Mineral Management Spreadsheet
The first and most essential part of owning mineral rights is to know what you own. This should be well documented and organized in files and a spreadsheet.
Lower your risk by keeping title documents, leases, and division orders in a folder along with one royalty statement from each operator.
The details about your mineral rights, including land tracts, units, leases, wells, and division orders should be organized in a spreadsheet or mineral management software.
Download the Free Mineral Management Spreadsheet.
Want to know more about managing your mineral rights? We have video about the advantages of actively managing your minerals, what documents you should keep, how to organize your files, monthly royalty audits, evaluate mineral management software, and if it’s all too overwhelming, how to outsource the management of your mineral rights.
June 5, 2018
Unlike other countries in the world, the United States allows mineral rights to be sold separately from surface rights to individuals or corporations. In other nations, governments typically claim minerals that exist underground. U.S. lawmakers passed the General Mining Law in 1872 to encourage settlers to move out west. Today, the 19 th century measure still rules the land, read more about how this could impact your property rights.
Sorting Out Mineral Rights
Do you own the mineral rights to your land? Many landowners have no idea. Usually, you assume you do, unless mineral rights have specifically been excluded from the sale.
However, this can become tricky. Many deeds fail to include this information. Still others may convey mineral rights, but may be incorrect.
Any previous land owners, dating back to the original land grant, may have withheld the transfer of a property’s mineral rights.
The only way you can be absolutely positive is to research historical deeds and property records carefully and thoroughly. Mineral-rich states where land owners need to be particularly alert because of the abundance of oil, gas, coal, gold, silver and other precious minerals include Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Colorado and New Mexico. The so-called mineral estate and the surface estate commonly get separated in these states.
Conduct a Search of Property Records
Many states, including Texas, do not follow the Public Land Survey System or PLSS. This surveying method developed in the United States plats or divides up real property for sale. Instead, Texas uses the old British metes and bounds system. This lists the block, lot number and subdivision name where you can find the property.
It can be very difficult and time-consuming to determine ownership of mineral rights through a public records search. It requires finding all the times mineral rights changed hands. Sometimes gaps in the records exist, requiring you to search other public records. You must follow all the transactions to confidently determine who owns what today.
Because of its complexity, you may want to hire professionals to “run title” on mineral ownership and write an opinion. Although this may be costly, it will likely allow you to more quickly put together your property records and clearly determine who owns the mineral rights.
Additionally, you or your representative can search a counties’ property records online for a small fee. It can save time and be more convenient than showing up to the county clerk’s office to do your search.
One other thing we should alert you about. During your search, you may come across royalty deeds. These are different from mineral deeds. It means you have the right to receive royalty payments if minerals are actually produced.
How Do You Profit From Mineral Rights
If after all of your research you discover you own the mineral rights to your property, then you can sell them or lease them and earn royalties. Make sure to have an experienced attorney review the language.
If you learn someone else owns the mineral rights on your land, you can still profit. Companies often provide compensation for any property damage they cause. For example, drilling, completing and producing oil or gas wells generally damages three to 10 acres. Make sure to review your state’s law.
Additionally, negotiate a payment that not only covers your current losses, but your future ones, too. Turn to Paramount Property Analysts experts, who can give you an accurate mineral valuation and help you make important decisions about your mineral interests. Knowing their true value can help you get your financial picture in order.
Paramount Property Analysts Offers Mineral Appraisal Services
When you’re ready for an accurate valuation of the minerals in your land, give us a call. Our certified and experienced team have earned praise from our extensive list of clients in Texas and throughout the South. We look forward to helping you with mineral valuation, property taxes, estate planning and other such services you need today!
Texas’s rich soil contains precious resources that can lead to profit or heartache for landowners, depending on who owns the mineral rights. Mineral rights are, quite simply, the legal ownership of mineral deposits beneath the surface of a property. In a completely efficient world, the one who owns the surface of the land would own the resources beneath.
Doesn’t the surface owner always own the mineral rights under their property? In reality, mineral rights can also be owned by previous surface owners, corporations, or third parties. Mineral-rich states that have an abundance of oil, gas, coal, gold, silver and other precious minerals are also the most likely areas for the “mineral estate” and the “surface estate” to be separated. With a little research and dedication, you can reunite your titles and maximize your land’s potential value.
What Are the Financial Benefits to Owning Mineral Rights?
Owning your land’s mineral rights allows you to get as much profit and value from your land as possible, for your present enjoyment and for your descendants. It also gives you control over when and how oil, gas, or other minerals can be extracted from your land. The financial gain from mineral rights can be prolific, as it provides endless opportunities for you to build your legacy and financially support your family.
If you own the mineral rights, you can pass those rights on to your heirs and lock them into the family for generations. You can also sell your mineral rights or lease them if you’re not interested in managing the drilling, production, and sale of your land’s resources. Your land’s hidden resources could entitle you to immense financial gain, but there is a process to nailing down the title.
How Can I Learn More About My Land’s Mineral Rights?
Hiring a professional is the easiest way to learn what claim you may have to your property’s mineral rights. In the United States, the General Mining Law allows mineral rights to be sold separately to individuals or corporations. The most common situation in Texas is where a previous surface owner has reserved the mineral rights in a previous sale of the property. This law was created to encourage settlers to move out west in the late 19th century, but its regulations still hold true today.
This law does add another level of complexity to analyzing your land’s potential value, as your property’s mineral rights could be wrapped up in layers of paperwork and legal jargon. Furthermore, Texas doesn’t follow the Public Land Survey System, which plats or divides up property for sale; it uses the old British metes and bounds system to list the block, lot number, and subdivision name of the property.
Where Do I Start To Find Out Who Owns The Mineral Rights On My Property?
The first step to researching your land’s mineral rights is to analyze historical deeds and property records. Research carefully, as your mineral rights could have changed hands several times throughout each term of ownership. Gaps in the records may exist, which will require further study into different public records.
Due to this process’s complexity, it may be worthwhile to hire a professional who can “run title” on mineral ownership. You can also pay a small fee to search a counties’ property records online, which may save more time than showing up to the county clerk’s office completely unprepared.
Running Your Mineral Title Requires Professionals.
Ultimately, examining mineral rights requires an intense knowledge of quit-claim deeds, mineral deeds, royalty deeds, and more. If you’re examining your mineral rights for any reason other than mere curiosity, hiring a legal professional is absolutely imperative.
Securing mineral rights can be an overwhelming process and is one of the most common misunderstandings in land ownership. The potential gain could be well worth the effort, and if you’re brave enough to pursue your land’s mineral rights, it could greatly benefit your loved ones for years to come.
MINERAL RIGHTS TITLE SEARCH TEXAS
When dealing with minerals, like oil and gas, it is important to know exactly who owns the mineral rights on a property. Reeves Land Services is one of the best mineral rights title research companies in Texas. The professional results you receive when working with Reeves Land Services will save you time and give you peace in knowing that the answer to your questions was achieved through hard work and detailed research. Call Reeves Land Services today for help with your mineral rights title search!
Who owns the mineral rights on my land?
The use of new technology has allowed the oil and gas industry to find and access deposits that previously would not have been attainable. More and more people are being approached about minerals on their land. One of the first things a property owner needs to confirm is that they still own the rights to minerals found on their property. It is also important when purchasing land to know whether or not you are also buying the mineral rights with the property.
Difference between surface and mineral ownership
Property rights can be divided into two estates, surface and mineral estates. Property owners nearly always own the surface rights to property. Some properties are sold without the mineral rights, as the rights may have been severed in a previous sale or title transaction. The surface rights to a property include everything above ground This may be land, the house and any buildings on the property. Mineral rights typically include any underground resources, except limestone, caliche, surface shale, building stones, sand, gravel or water, all of which belong to the surface owner. Once severed, the owner of the surface rights has no claim on the mineral rights.
The owner of the mineral rights can sell, mine, or produce the gas or oil that is below or on the surface. The surface rights are subservient to the mineral rights, so the owner of the mineral estate can alter the surface as much as is needed to access the minerals underground. As such, it is important for a property owner to be very clear on who owns the mineral rights on their property.
How to search for oil and gas mineral rights records/ title search
Ownership of mineral rights should be a very clear matter. County Clerk’s offices have a records vault that contains deeds for all properties from sovereignty to the present date. The deeds will specify exactly what rights the owner of the property is selling or reserving. In some cases, the matter will require additional research to confirm the specifics involved in title ownership. Using a professional to help research the title and rights for a property in question is always advised. This will help ensure accuracy and thorough confirmation for your results.
Title search of mineral rights ownership
Property owners are not the only ones who research mineral rights. Companies that have an interest in the resources on the property also must research and confirm mineral rights ownership. These companies want to make sure they get approval from the correct owners. As well, they must also know who to include in the payment of any royalty interest that the resources yield. Given the importance, companies often use internal and external resources to confirm mineral rights ownership.
Researching unclaimed oil and gas royalties
Each year millions of dollars of oil and gas royalties go unclaimed. Each state has its own fund to pool these assets. These funds typically are the result of the state not knowing the next of kin for a property when the known owner passes away. The resources on the land continue to yield royalty checks, and that money is held in suspense and is waiting to be claimed by the proper owner. If you think you may have unclaimed royalties that are due, it is helpful to engage the services of a professional. A title professional can research the land that is owned to assess who the owner of the mineral rights is. Plus, the professional can help you support your claim on the unclaimed payments.
Researching inherited mineral rights
When a relative leaves land as part of the inheritance, the recipient often times has to make a number of decisions. If there is oil and gas or some other resource on the property, these decisions can have an immediate financial ramification. It is important to understand what rights were owned by the relative, as they will be passed in the inheritance. A title research professional can clarify any rights to surface and minerals. As well, a title research professional can help you stake claim to royalty payments for minerals being extracted from the property. That’s one less decision you will need to make when transitioning property after a loved one passes.
Searching for mineral rights records means going beyond just looking at who owns the property today. The landowner is not necessarily the owner of mineral rights. These rights, if known, must be stated to new property owners – otherwise they are automatically transferred to new owners. However, early oil and gas companies maintained mineral rights while selling the ground property, retaining rights to mine for minerals at a later date. The ground property is the surface property where a house might sit.
County Records and Assessor’s Office
Go to the county records office and conduct a title deed search. The title component of the title deed states ownership over time. You want to go through the chain of owners throughout the history of the property. This chain of title should give clues as to whether an oil and gas company ever owned the property at any point, a strong clue about where to look for rights. The deed component lists the property description, liens, right-of-ways, easements and mineral rights. Unfortunately, your current deed probably won’t cover mineral rights, forcing you to dig deep into archives.
Pay particular attention to title deeds dating back to the 1900s and earlier when the sale of mineral rights, including oil, gas and coal was more common.
Foreclosure and Loan Default History
The bank takes possession of the mineral rights on any foreclosure property of an owner that held mineral rights. However, the bank may overlook the transfer of the mineral rights when auctioning the property. This means the bank might still own the mineral rights.
Royalty deeds also exist. Where mineral rights deeds give ownership for the right to mine for minerals, the royalty deed gives the owner the right to a royalty if someone else mines and produces the minerals. This key distinction means a mineral rights owner does all the work while the royalty deed owner reaps some financial benefit if minerals materialize.
Title Company Specialized Search
Hiring a title company to do a specialized mineral rights search may save you time. Even though there are fees for labor on this search, the title company is better versed than the lay person in looking for detailed records involving mineral rights. The title company might find something you would overlook.
Even experienced eyes take a week, or maybe a month, to scour records to find the chain of title and locate the actual mineral rights records. The more work you are willing to do personally, the less it costs. However, you still need to pay county clerk fees for searches and deed copies.
- Mineral Hub: How Can I Locate Who Owns the Mineral Rights Under My Land?
- State of California Department of Conservation: Oil, Gas & Geothermal – Frequently Asked Questions
- The Nest: How to Search for Mineral Rights Records
Kimberlee Leonard lived in the Bay Area while going to school at the University of San Francisco. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked for major financial institutions such as Wells Fargo and State Farm. She has developed content for brands such as Trupanion, Live Your Aloha, Neil Patel and Home To Go. She currently lives in her home state of Hawaii with her active son and lazy dog.
You May Have a Check for Unclaimed Royalties Waiting
Did you know that many people have unclaimed oil and gas royalties of which they are not aware? And you may be one of them. Each state government is responsible to maintain and administer an account containing unclaimed funds whose owners cannot be found, or to which there is questionable ownership. And it’s not chump change – it’s millions and millions and millions of unclaimed royalties. State statutes allow suspended royalty funds to be handed over to the state government after a prolonged period. In effect, the law allows oil companies to off load the responsibility of administration over these oil and gas royalties after a period of 3-10 years, depending on the state. At this point the oil company gives the state whatever records it has, and the responsibility of administering these funds is transferred to the state. These funds now become part of that state’s Unclaimed Property. The article “Royalty in Suspense” discusses how individuals can access money owed them that is held by oil and gas companies which has not yet been handed over (escheated) to the state.
There are a myriad of reasons why unclaimed money ends up here – among the most common are invalid mailing addresses, simple misspellings, or a minor title issue. Common unclaimed properties that end up with the state are utility deposits, insurance dividends, oil and gas royalty payments and stock dividends.
Find Your Unclaimed Oil and Gas Royalty, It’s Easy
With today’s technology, it is easy and quick to check your name or your company name for unclaimed royalty funds that may be owed you. You’ll have to jump through a few hoops with the state to get your unclaimed money, but the process is generally not too burdensome. And of course, it may be that the payoff will be well worth the time!
If you would like to discuss mineral rights related issues with other landowners visit MineralRightsForum.com.
To find your unclaimed oil and gas royalty, click on your state from the list below.
When you purchase a home, you typically own the house and the land underneath it. But buyer beware. Hidden in the sea of paperwork you sign at closing could be a disclosure stating the home builder or developer will maintain the mineral rights located in the earth underneath your property.
This means that if precious minerals, such as oil or gas, are found to be present, the possessor of the mineral rights will be able to claim and take ownership of those findings.
Many builders in the Valley are using this practice. One builder’s disclaimer was a clause giving the builder “all geothermal energy and recourses located on, in, or under the lot.” Selling or leasing mineral rights has become a multibillion-dollar industry. Make sure to examine the deed clearly to determine if they’re being claimed by another party other than yourself.
How do I find out if someone else has mineral rights on my home?
You can check your deed at the County Recorder’s Office. You can also hire a title company to research the chain of title to find out if your deed is accurate. By performing a title search, you can check if the mineral rights were sold off at some point in the past.
What happens if I don’t own mineral rights and they find some on my property?
According to the legal site Nolo.com, “a mineral owner’s rights typically include the right to use the surface of the land to access and mine the minerals owned. This might mean the mineral owner has the right to drill an oil or natural gas well, or excavate a mine on your property. The mineral owner is also commonly allowed to build roadways or other improvements necessary to facilitate the mineral extraction. Sometimes the terms of the conveyance of the mineral rights restrict the mineral owner’s rights. For example, a mineral deed might put a time limit on how long drilling can continue or restrict excavation to a certain depth. Additionally, to protect the land owner and the environment, state and local laws regulating mining and drilling typically contain restrictions on mineral extraction activities.”
Is a mineral rights disclosure required?
If purchasing land, the seller is required to disclose anything relevant to mineral rights under section 7 of the SPDS form for land/lots. If purchasing an existing home, you’ll want to ensure a thorough title search has been completed.
One question with which many Northeastern Ohio residents are grappling is who owns the mineral rights under their land holdings.
The surge of natural gas exploration has been a boon for many property owners in the tri-state region of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. But before anyone can profit from the sale of discovered natural resources, a clear title must be produced in order to legally harvest them.
It’s my land, so it’s my minerals, right?
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but rather a common misconception. While each situation is unique, it is quite common for the surface estate (the land and properties above ground) and the mineral estate (what lies beneath) to be separate entities. If you have acreage that you own free and clear, you could be chagrined to discover that someone else entirely owns or leases your mineral rights.
It’s also possible that one or more individuals or companies may own the mineral rights and another has the royalty rights of any minerals that are subsequently discovered on the property. It’s a little confusing, but whomever granted the royalty deed is the actual owner of the minerals, and that person or entity retains that ownership. The developer with the royalty rights will reap the profits, however.
How can I find out if I own the mineral rights?
The only way to determine whether you own the rights is to run an abstract of your property. You will need to head over to the clerk of court’s office in the county where the property is located in order to do this, and you will also need to know the legal description of the property.
Working backwards, your goal is to establish a “chain of title,” which is the sequential record detailing the transference of ownership of the mineral rights of the property in question. This is done by poring over the index books of mortgages and conveyances at the civil clerk’s office.
Can anyone do this?
Theoretically, yes, and as all are public records, if you do the abstract yourself, it is free of charge. However, depending upon the history of the property, the process may be quite tedious and complex if it has changed hands many times, been encumbered by liens or foreclosures or been subject to litigation.
How do I start?
Ideally, you will have a property description to use that will tell you which tract index book you will need to begin the abstract. In cases where the property description is unknown, begin with the grantor/grantee index book and search under names that you know or think were associated with your property.
For instance, let’s say that you inherited some land from your parents, who also inherited it from your paternal grandparents. Working back from your parents’ ownership of the property, you can follow the chain of ownership backward to determine whether the mineral rights are free and clear or otherwise encumbered.
The following records and documents should all be thoroughly reviewed to determine ownership:
- Probate records
- Divorce settlements
- Tax sales
Your chain of title must be free of gaps. This could be very important to determining your right to sell or profit from any natural gas or oil discovered on the property.
Suppose that you found a lease that granted an oil company certain rights, yet you lack the source deed describing the acquisition of the interest. To legally sell or transfer the mineral rights, this would need to be remedied.
If the mere thought of this paper chase is mind-boggling to you, take heart. There are legal professionals who run property abstracts for a fee, and you can contact someone in the industry to assist you with this task.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Mining and Minerals Division, which focuses on mine land reclamation and collecting annual data on active mining operations, does not administer or have information on mineral rights ownership.
COUNTY CLERK: Mineral rights are registered with the county clerk of the county in which the property is located. The New Mexico Association of Counties provides a listing of county offices and courthouses. The county clerk (free) and/or a private abstract or title company (not free) in the county will have all the associated filed land records.
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT: The BLM New Mexico Field Office maintains information on mineral rights and has a public information room at 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87508, (505) 954-2000, where that information can be researched.
STATE LAND OFFICE: If the mineral rights are owned by the state, you can contact the State Land Office Minerals Program at (505) 827-5750, and this website for Lease Information – Minerals.
An Internet search for “who owns the mineral rights to my property” will provide links to information.
How do I locate, file and/or maintain a mining claim?
Before you can locate a claim, you must determine if the lands are, in fact, open to filing a claim. You can find this out at any Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office. The BLM administers the subsurface mineral resources on federal public lands. The BLM website provides information and guidelines on mining claims, locating/recording a mining claim, service charges and fees, and other topics. BLM also maintains the Federal Land Records System.
New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA), Chapter 69, Article 3 (Mining Location and Operations) addresses, among other things, boundary posts, posting notice, and recording fees.
Who can tell me where mineral deposits are located?
The Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, a division of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, functions as the state geological survey. The Bureau publishes geologic maps, resource maps and other types of publications which talk about the nature and occurrence of mineral resources in the state. It maintains an extensive collection of core samples, databases, and historical mining maps in its libraries. The staff of economic geologists and engineers is highly experienced in the New Mexico extractive resources industry.
Further information about the location of extractive mineral resources can also be obtained from the Minerals Program of the State Land Office and from this MMD web page of informational links.