If you’ve recently inherited minerals you’re part of a group of mineral owners that grows every day as rights get passed down from owners to their heirs. There are many differences between owning mineral rights and owning the surface rights. Sometimes knowing where to start can be the hardest part, especially if you’re not also the surface owner. Although we recommend learning as much as possible about your mineral rights, we understand every situation is different and not everyone is interested in managing their minerals. We’ve provided a few options to help you decide how to proceed with your inherited mineral rights, but first things first.
Prove ownership of your mineral rights
If you’ve inherited minerals, the first step is to make sure you get a clean title transferred from the estate to you. Sometime, this will need to go through a process called “probate”. The probate process is a court-supervised procedure in which the authenticity of the will left behind is proven to be valid and accepted as the true last testament of the deceased.
Once the probate is clear regarding your property ownership in the mineral rights, you’ll want to make sure the county courthouse where the minerals are located updates their records to reflect this change. This process can take longer than you’d think, and is often more confusing than proving ownership of surface rights or other real estate, but it’s important that the rightful heir takes ownership of the mineral rights.
There are a few different scenarios to consider:
- I think I inherited mineral rights
- I didn’t know I had mineral rights, but I received a mineral lease offer
- I know I inherited mineral rights
I think I inherited mineral rights: If you’re not sure that you’re the heir to mineral rights the first thing you should do is gather and organize all of the information you have. Talk to other relatives or family members of the previous owner and try to understand what kind of documents are available including wills, deeds, old leases, and old revenue checks. Once these are located follow the processes of proving your mineral rights ownership as described below. Also take advantage of our free MineralAnswers Vault for simple, secure, online storage to stay organized.
I received an offer to lease my mineral rights or buy my mineral rights: It’s not uncommon for someone to become aware that they might own mineral rights through an unsolicited offer to lease their mineral rights or to buy their mineral rights. If this is your situation then making sure you understand more about what you own is important. Don’t just jump on the first lease bonus or buy offer you see. In this scenario you’ll probably still need to follow the process of proving your ownership before a contract gets executed. If the offer you receive is large enough it’s worthwhile to make sure you know exactly what you own and to track planned wells near your property.
I know I inherited mineral rights. If you know you’re an heir to a mineral estate, then your process is similar. Gather all of the documents that show a clear path to ownership including wills or an affidavit of heirship. Consider updating the county courthouse records to make it clear that you own the property. If you’re unsure of the exact location of the mineral rights and which county courthouse to update, check the legal description that describes the location of the property that should be on the mineral deed or an oil and gas lease.
Even if you know you’re an heir to mineral rights, sometimes the process to prove ownership involves probate and the help of professionals. Rules that apply to Texas might not be the same as in Oklahoma or other states so make sure you find a professional who is familiar with your state laws and process. Here are a few groups of people that often help with mineral rights inheritance:
A landman is responsible for working with mineral owners to lease their property to an oil company which gives them rights to extract oil and gas minerals for a specified period of time. They also do a lot of other tasks in the industry such as digging into county courthouse documents to understand details of land records including who has ownership of a certain tract of land for mineral rights or surface rights. They commonly perform public record title searches to trace ownership back through time which also helps form an opinion on exactly how many acres a person or entity owns. If you need a Landman, search our database for a Landman in your state here.
Oil and Gas Attorney
An oil and gas attorney can help with the probate process of proving you own the mineral rights. Finding an attorney who specializes in legal advice for mineral owners can be important. Also making sure the attorney can provide a free initial consultation can be helpful if you’re not sure how much is reasonable to spend since the value of what you own might not be clear.
*Pro Tip* When an Oil Company doesn’t know who to pay, the minerals go to a “minerals in suspense” fund. If you know the oil company name, you can try reaching out to them to see if there are any funds in suspense from the previous owner.
Check to see if you have mineral rights money stacking up: Here’s a good resource to check suspended funds by your state. Be sure to search for both your name and the name(s) of the prior owners.
Once you have all the documentation needed to prove ownership, you’ll need to provide these ownership documents to your oil company to prove you’re now the royalty owner. Then you will start receiving your portion of the payments for the oil and natural gas production going forward and any payments that have accumulated for you from past production.
*Hint* If you contact the oil and gas company who was paying the previous owner sometimes they’ll give you the exact documentation they need to start sending you royalty payments. Since the documents you need can be different based on the county or the oil and gas company, this step can save you some time.
If the mineral rights you own are not yet paying royalties but are leased you also need to update your oil company of the change. Doing this ensures you receive future payments that could result from any new wells that are drilled.
If the mineral rights are not yet leased or producing then updating your records with the county courthouse is good enough for now. Just make sure to store your documents in the MineralAnswers Vault so that when the time comes to lease your minerals you have all your property information stored in a secure location.
I want to learn more about my mineral rights
If you want to learn more and manage your minerals we applaud you. MineralAnswers is the only free platform available for owners to track activity and store key oil and gas documents such as mineral deeds, oil and gas leases, and revenue payment documents. This process can be complicated but we’ve built tools and content to help you along the way. Here are some topics to help you:
- Learn more about mineral rights
- Track your mineral rights and your wells
- Organize your mineral rights documents
I inherited mineral rights and I’m interesting in selling the mineral rights
Many people who inherit mineral rights are busy and don’t want the hassle of managing their mineral rights. At the same time, it’s important to get a fair market price for your mineral rights and to understand different options you have for selling or getting cash for your mineral rights.
Learning a little information will go a long way in making sure you’re smart when selling mineral rights. Here are few quick tips for selling mineral rights.
5 things to know when selling mineral rights
- You have options to get cash beyond selling all of your mineral rights. These include selling part of your mineral rights or getting a loan against your royalty payments.
- Understand different ways to sell your minerals. These include finding buyers with a presence online or auctioning your mineral rights on an online platform. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Visit our selling mineral rights page for more details.
- Don’t succumb to the pressure of closing too fast. This is really important. If a potential buyer is putting pressure on you it’s important not to jump too quickly with selling your minerals until you have more information. The next item is really important if you feel pressure to sell.
- Know what wells are planned around your property. The value of your mineral rights can go up drastically if a new well is planned on or near your property. MineralAnswers can help you track planned wells near your property. Track planned wells here.
- Get organized. Keep and organize all of your key documents such as deeds, leases, division orders, and revenue checks. Deeds, leases, and division orders can help you prove ownership including your net mineral interest and your royalty interest. Keeping all of your revenue checks will help prove revenue through time and help a potential buyer forecast future revenue for a more accurate and timely offer. Take advantage of the free MineralAnswers Vault to help stay organized with simple, secure, online storage of these documents.
We have another section of the website dedicated to helpful tips for owners interest in selling mineral rights. Click here for more details.