Property and Mineral Rights Title Searches: Doing Your Due Diligence
HeirSearch™ provides forensic genealogy search services to legal and trust professionals to help them find missing heirs and meet their fiduciary responsibilities. Since 1967, we’ve completed tens of thousands of worldwide heir searches with a 97% success rate.
In addition to trust and estate heir searches, our clients also include attorneys assisting energy companies in finding mineral rights owners and heirs. At times, we work directly for oil, gas, or mining companies to determine land and mineral rights ownership.
What are mineral rights and how do they work?
Mineral rights are the ownership rights to underground resources such as oil, silver, or natural gas. Mineral rights and surface estates do not always go hand in hand, though.
In many countries, all mineral resources belong to the government, regardless of who owns the land above these resources. Originally, that was the case in the United States as well. Over the past 150 years, American mineral rights in many states have been transferred to both the states and private parties. Today, it is common practice to separate mineral rights from the land they are on, and privately-owned mining or mineral rights may be acquired like any other private property.
There are four major types of mineral rights:
- Surface rights: Ownership rights to above-ground minerals only.
- Mineral rights: Ownership of mineral interests under the ground.
- Royalty rights: Allow an investor to receive royalty payments on a mineral rights investment.
- Oil and gas rights: An owner of mineral rights on one property has the right to all oil or gas captured there, even if it originated on another property, thanks to the “rule of capture.”
How do you clarify ownership of mineral rights?
While many people may know the ownership status of their land or mineral rights, property ownership is not always so clearly defined. There may be a debate over who truly owns the land or who has the rights to it.
Interested parties must conduct thorough research before purchasing oil, gas, and mineral rights. Often, people may not know that they hold an interest in mineral rights and will need to be notified.
What do you need to know to complete your mineral rights due diligence?
Mineral rights buyers complete extensive due diligence to ensure that their investment is sound and that they are purchasing the rights from the correct owner.
Due diligence often includes a geology and engineering review, production and ROI analysis, lease and operator review, title searches, and more. Of these, title searches can be the most difficult and time-consuming, but they’re essential. Titles must be traced back to the original land patent in order to determine mineral rights ownership.
At HeirSearch, many of our searches are property matters, including oil, gas, and mineral rights issues. Our professional forensic genealogy researchers assist our clients by tracing genealogies to determine proper ownership.
What is the difference between a clear title and a quiet title when it comes to mineral rights?
“Clear title” means unencumbered or unrestricted legal ownership that is free from doubt as to its validity. If a property has a clear title, it means that ownership is undisputed, and no other party can make any legal claim to it.
A “quiet title,” on the other hand, indicates “adverse possession.” Adverse possession allows one person to gain ownership of another’s property by acting as the owner of that property for an extended period. This period of possession can vary by state, but it can be as long as 20 years.
Since mineral interests are often severed from surface rights, ownership may be uncertain. Without a clear mineral title, owners may be prevented from leasing mineral rights, receiving royalties, extracting the minerals, and more.
When there is a dispute, uncertainty, or conflict over the ownership of mineral interests, a quiet title action may be necessary. Once someone has met the requirements of adverse possession for the appropriate length of time, the property title will automatically pass to the new owner. A quiet title action establishes with certainty that a title passed through adverse possession is legitimate.
Quiet title actions can help prevent or address competing claims to mineral rights. In some situations and in some states, oil, gas, and mineral right searches are conducted like a missing and unknown estate heir case, or as any other quiet title action.
Do you need help locating mineral rights owners?
At HeirSearch, we offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, even if you don’t need to start a search right away.
As the leading forensic genealogy experts, we’ve seen it all. We can help.
Feel free to call us with any questions: +1 (800)-663-2255
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