My parents owned 143 acres of land which they leased to an oil and gas company in 2007. In 2009 they sold 15.01 acres to someone, and in that deed reserved the mineral rights for 10 years from the date of sale. Also in 2009 they deeded 10 acres to my wife and me. This deed erroneously included the same reservation found in the other (15-acre sale) deed. My father had this wording changed and on December 31, 2010, we (my parents, my wife and I) signed a revised deed removing the reservation (more about this later). In 2010 my parents sold their estate; the mineral rights on the remaining 117 acres were split 51/49 between the buyer and my parents, respectively. When royalty checks began to be issued, to my knowledge, they were consistent with the distribution of rights as described above: My wife and I own 100% of the rights on the 10 acres, my parents own 100% of the rights on the 15.01 acres, plus 49% of the rights on the 117 acres, and the buyer owns 51% of the rights on the 117 acres.
In May 2013 we received a letter from the gas company. They said that according to their lawyer, my wife and I own the rights to 49% of (all) 143 acres and the buyer owns 51% of (all) 143 acres. A second letter in June 2013 indicates they understand our intention was as described in my first paragraph, above. However, they maintain that our documentation does not state this. Reviewing our revised deed, the last paragraph states: "Under and subject to a certain gas and oil lease ... Grantors hereby assign all their right, title and interest in said Lease to Grantees herein, their heirs and assigns." So when the paragraph is taken out of context (not being understood to apply only to the subject of the deed, the 10 acres), it is pretty clear that the gas company's lawyer is right.
I contacted my parents' lawyer. His solution was to draw up two deeds: One in which we sign the property and all the rights back over to my parents, and another in which my parents sign the property back over to my wife and me with the mineral rights specifically only to these 10 acres. These deeds were signed and notarized concurrently in June 2013. Not elegant, but it seemed to make sense.
In a second letter to us in July of 2013, the gas company said that IN THE ALTERNATIVE to correcting the documents, all parties could complete and sign a Stipulation of Interest, and the company would “distribute all payments according to the signed stipulation of interest.” The buyer's lawyer chose to go this route, which necessitated that we also sign, thereby involving my parents' lawyer. I just received the stip which my parents' lawyer helped draft and to my eye it is completely wrong. For one thing, he perpetuated the notion that my wife and I owned the rights from December 2013 through June 2013. Other issues aside, he also incorrectly has my wife and I not owning our 10 acres again until whenever the stip is signed, presumably some day this month (September 2013).
QUESTION 1: It seems to me that the Stipulation of Interest allows us to state our intention as to the distribution of mineral rights apart from any other documentation, so shouldn't the stip simply state how we intended it to be divided up? To my thinking, the stip should not reflect and further help to cement erroneous information contained in the deeds. Is my thinking about this right or wrong?
QUESTION 2: Is it a good idea to involve another lawyer at this point? Or will that just slow things down further? Or am I right about the stipulation of interest, and should I just tell the lawyer to write it up to reflect our original intentions and be done with it?
QUESTION 3: The division of mineral rights does not add up to 143, it adds up to 142.01. What becomes of the other 0.99 acres?