Oklahoma Loss of mineral rights in land foreclosure

Our family has lost some mineral rights due to foreclosures in the early days, meaning from 1920 and later. Can anyone share information on the date range, or decade, when mineral rights in Oklahoma were separated as property and no longer lost in the land foreclosure? I have been told sometime between the late 1930’s up to perhaps 1950. Any information would be appreciated. This would help multiple extended family members believe that the loss actually happened. Thank you, Charlie

Many of them were lost during the Depression through the Dust Bowl times. Each tract will have its own date. Many folks sold their mineral rights and kept their surface. That would have been a severing. Many tried to hold onto both, but lost them in a sheriff’s sale when they didn’t pay their taxes. Then someone bought both and perhaps severed later.

You would pretty much have to go to the county courthouse and do a search on section-township- range and early ancestor names for anything that far back. A title search will also show the sales dates.

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Typically, people lost their interest in two different ways. The first and a little bit simpler than the others is failure to pay taxes. If taxes were not paid, for that period prior to oct 1, 1979, in almost all situations, the sale of the land/surface included all the mineral rights under the tract. After 10/1/79, the sale included the surface and the minerals that were owned by that defaulting taxpayer/surface owner. So, if the mineral ownership were severed prior to 1979, the tax sale included the minerals. After 1979, the tax sale only affected the minerals owned by the surface owner. The second most common way of losing ownership was a mortgage foreclosure.Typically, if the mineral ownership was severed prior to the date of the execution of the mortgage, the foreclosure would not affect that mineral owner’s interest. But, at any time from inception of title to 2018, if a mortage was executed, and then the mortgagor sold part or all of his interest, then the sheriffs sale would also sell any part of the interest that was separated from the mortgagor after the date of the mortgage. this is still true today. If I mortage my house, and then sell it or part of the minerals, etc, and I don’t pay the mortgage, then the sale will impact the party I sold the house to or the minerals to.


Would the same be true for Texas for the sale of surface and mineral rights owned by the surface owner when there is no mineral income on the property in question

It could be. The mineral income is not the issue. The mineral acres may be severed from the surface with or without income. In Texas, you have to pay property taxes on the minerals even without income. Not so in OK, only pay taxes if there is production income.

In Texas for tax sales, if a person owned the surface and any portion of the mineral estate, they would only lose the mineral interest if the mineral interest is not being taxed separately from the surface. Texas only taxes RI, ORRI, WI etc not the actual mineral ownership. If the RI associated with surface parcel owner is being taxed (active lease and typically but not always active production) separately from the surface, the royalty interest only could survive if it was not included / joined in the tax foreclosure action of the surface parcel. However, if the mineral interest held by the surface owner has an active lease (which means they’ve exchanged their mineral interest for a future royalty interest in production) the mineral interest (which is now a future interest that reverts from WI/RI once the lease terminates) will pass to the buyer of the surface parcel. This is only applicable to the actual mineral interest owned by the surface owner - and not applicable to any other severed mineral interest or royalty interest owners. The RI (If taxed separately and not subject to foreclosure) can still be owned by the foreclosed surface owner and royalties received until the lease terminates. At which time the new buyer of the surface tract would then have the “mineral interest” of the original owner who was foreclosed. At this point, the new buyer would be able to lease and receive royalties on future production.

On mortgage foreclosures, if the surface owner did not exclude the minerals from being subject to the mortgage, if a foreclosure takes place, all mineral interest owned by the surface owner is then passed to the bank / new buyer. This has no impact on other severed mineral interest owners on the same property.

As stated in an earlier post, Oklahoma had laws in place prior to 1979 that would extinguish the rights of mineral owners in a foreclosure, including those not owned by the surface owner. Many people lost interest through no fault of their own because of those laws.