I have inherited mineral deeds that are under lease and producing royalty income. I’ve notified the oil companies sending royalty checks of the change of ownership and am receiving Division Orders from them with regard to this change of ownership. To execute these Division Orders I need to sign them, signifying that the ownership percentage listed on the Division Order is correct.
While I have copies of the Mineral Deeds showing the ownership fraction of the deed, I do not have copies of the original leases which would show the fractional ownership negotiated at the time of the lease. I would need this information from the lease in order to verify that the ownership percentage is correct on the Division Order. Some of these leases could possibly be around 80 years old.
I’ve spoken with several of the companies who will send royalty checks and they tell me they don’t have copies of the original lease and that they received my ownership percentage from the previous operator (I believe they used the term “Pay Sheet”) and just continued to use that figure. With all of the operators that may have been involved with a lease over an 80 year period I see a lot of room for error, so I want to confirm that the ownership percentage listed on the Division Orders are correct before I sign them.
I’ve ask the oil companies that do have a Title Opinion (vs. a Pay Sheet received from the previous operator) if they could send me copies of the pages that pertain to my interests so that I could verify my ownership interest. They have said they will not do that because they had to pay for the Title Opinion and my lease did not stipulate that I was entitled to copies from that Title Opinion. I’ve call the county clerk’s office where these documents would be recorded to see if they could try to locate these documents and they said they cannot without a Book and Page number or some type of document reference number, which I don’t have. The County Clerk’s office is out of state (in a small town in west Texas) and because of the distance I’m not able to personally go to the County Clerk’s office to try and search myself. This particular county does index some documents online, but they only go back 20 years online, not nearly far enough back for what I need.
I don’t have the funds to hire a title company, a landman or an attorney to obtain this information for me. I’ve been told that it’s not uncommon for oil companies or operators to make mistakes in the stating of ownership percentages, especially when dealing with old leases, and I suspect, especially in one case, that an error has been made.
Short of hiring a landman, title company or attorney, is there any way that I can obtain this information in order to verify that the ownership percentage listed on the Division Order is correct?