Is a deed necessary for proof of ownership of mineral rights?

Just double checking. I was left mineral rights in a family member's will, but no deed could be found. I was advised by the county clerk to send the certified death certificate, the probated will, and a notarized affidavit of heirship. I did so, and my documents were returned to me, stamped as being recorded in my name. The clerk said that a deed isn't necessary since actual real estate (land) wasn't involved, and that if a mining company is interested in my minerals they will contact me, and I would be the one to collect the royalties, no problem. I think I could have a deed drawn up if I want, so should I, to be safe, and to make sure my heirs wont have any problem?

I live in Ohio and so did the previous owner. The minerals are in Braxton County WV.

I appreciate the clerk's help and she took a lot of time with me. I just want to double check.

Every state is a little different. We had/have a similar situation. Mineral rights in Oklahoma but our family moved to CA many years ago. Inherited mineral rights when our parents died, filed the heirship and other info, there was already production so we've continued to received royalties to this day. Our leases have gone through quite a few oil companies and all the companies we've dealt with have operated about the same. We never had copies of the original deeds which were passed down through three generations although it is nice to have a copy of the deed so you know what you have and what you are dealing with. Some states like OK put their county records online so you can search for your deed BUT in OK each county is different and they usually only go back for a limited number of years, if your deeds are very old as ours are you have to go to the county clerks office (or possibly hire someone) and search the records to find your deeds then you can get a copy (usually a fee is involved). However, if/when you decide to sell your mineral rights having a copy of the deed can be very helpful or someone is going to have to search the title to find the deeds, up until that time you are probably alright and don't really need the deed. That's just our experience dealing with Oklahoma. Hope that helps.

State laws vary regarding what is sufficient to establish legal title. You should ask a title attorney in the state where the minerals are located what is necessary. Texas accepts probate from other states and the probated will should be sufficient. Other states such as Oklahoma and New Mexico require ancillary probate or other procedures. Unfortunately, oil companies often accept unprobated wills and other documents to transfer royalties from deceased owner to heirs and do not tell the mineral owner that their title is unclear. If there is later a title dispute, then the mineral owner is left unprotected and has to go back to prove title. Or a later oil company under the same lease may question title. I have even seen an oil company block a title settlement among royalty owners on the grounds that some had not filed everything required in deed records, despite the fact that the oil company had accepted copies of unprobated wills to pay those owners. Too late to file probate so it was more expensive to then clear title. County clerk should not be relied on for legal advice.

True and something to consider for the future. In CA probate is not required, and we had a family trust, HOWEVER, a family trust is NOT acceptable in OK so we had to probate our parents estate in the Oklahoma Probate Court to get the minerals into our name. It was an simple expedited probate so fairly quick and not very expensive. And yes, oil companies do some pretty screwed up things than can cause you problems.

Thanks for your reply. I think I will need to consult a WV attorney in order to be sure my heirs won't have difficulty in the future.

Thanks for the warning about oil companies.

Thanks, TennisDaze, I'll call an attorney.

I would file a deed of ownership at that local county courthouse that way the Landman would be able to track you down if they did start drilling.

Usually a Personal Representative, or an Executor, is mentioned in a Will. You should have the PR or Executor, if they are still living, execute a Mineral Deed to you and the other heirs for their proportionate share.