Finding out if you have mineral rights

We have been contacted by a 3rd party to sell mineral rights which we were not aware we might own. It seems that land owned by a Grandparent and sold years ago, did not include the sale of the mineral rights. It seems this is in the court system being discussed. We know of the acres and the general location of the previous land.

However, we did not know any of this until contacted by a 3rd party. How and where might we go to find:

  1. What oil rights we might actually own?
  2. Where this dispute is being contested in the courts?
  3. How we might be able to value the rights?

In addition do any experts out there have any suggestions or thoughts for us that we should consider as we go down this path would be appreciated.


The answers depend upon what state you are in. If you post your state, county and legal location, you may get a more useful answer. Be aware that offers to buy often are hints at future drilling or mere speculation, so get fully informed before making any decisions. You would not want to sell at a lowball price and then find out you had quite a few horizontal wells pending.

Thank you for your reply. The rights are in Karnes county in Texas. Thank you for your thoughts!

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You can look into ownership by researching the title documents at Karnes county clerks office. The district clerk would/should have records of any Judgements related to the this case should it have gone that far. This is a big part of what landmen do, and chances are high that this 3rd party is going off information a landman already found for them. You could always ask for what title documents they have on the matter, but that’s a bit like asking a poker player about how many Aces they’ve got.

As a side note, it is very common for the sale of land to exclude the minerals - this is what we call a reservation. You can confirm this by researching your grandparents last name through what’s called the Grantor Indexes in the County Clerks Office. All you need is a time period when they might’ve done it to start your search as close as possible. Any clerk in the office should be able to point you in the right direction. From there, you’ll find recording information for the deed by which this was all sold out. Looking at that deed should be able to confirm that a reservation was made. However, a continued search for your family in this case would be needed to verify if the minerals were sold at a later time, and how much of them - it is common to sell out a half, or reserve a quarter, etc.

I can’t thank you enough for this information. You have been so helpful in pointing us in the right direction.

Thanks again.

Dear Mr. Berg,

If the proposed buyer has sent an offer with a description of the property, that would be invaluable.

I would ask the buyer to show proof of your ownership. Never hurts to ask. They might say no.

Also, if it came from Grandfather and Grandmother, you could go to a paid service, such as Courthouse Direct, and search for their name(s) as Grantor over the property. Then is you see the document, you will have more idea as to what, if any, was reserved.

Best wishes,

Buddy Cotten

Buddy – thank you for your reply. I will use your suggestions in searching. It is certainly a complex world for a novice!

Thanks again.

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