Recent minerals were lost in ND because an atty did not check our Statment of Claim. Basically the atty committed fraud and lied to the Court and a surface owner received our minerals. If the potential successor to your interest has an address, they have to mail you a notice. In our case they took our address off of a 1996 Statement of Claim which was an old address. The potential successor also has to publish the notice for 3 or 4 weeks in the newspaper. We have minerals in 20 counties in ND... how do large companies and other mineral owners keep on top of this. We can't read that many newspapers. Only by the grace of gentleman who out the blue calling us were we able to start proceedings to get our minerals back.
Your concerns are also mine. Can you list your TRS. Mine are 141-93W-14,15
This happened to my siblings and I too in ND. My three aunts and my father were on the deed and have passed. My mother resides at the last address of record on the actual mineral deed, but nothing was sent there. So when the surface owner's attorney filed for a quiet claim deed, he sent registered mail to two aunts and my father to a post office box in a city in the county the minerals are located in, published three times in a local newspaper and sent a letter to his law office addressed to one aunt. The court was duped into believing this attorney did a due diligence search for the mineral owner(s) of record. We were successful in getting our minerals returned after the attorney I hired pointed out the shenanigans and threatened to file a lawsuit. We were also going to file for attorney's fees, and other reasonable compensation for having to travel 10-hours to fight our case. I also mentioned my thoughts on filing an official complaint with the ND bar regarding the underhanded way the surface owners attorney handled this! I hope you can have the same resolution!
I totally agree with you about the comment; but, there is a lot of them out there. This broad reach forum has helped to shine the light on situations like you described and most of us appreciate your sharing, so we can hopefully not get caught in a similar situation.
The point being the O/P has a current address of record on a statement of claim and the S/O's attorney chose to use one from 1996 to send a notice of quiet claim. That isn't due diligence, and to purport to the court it was is fraudulent. In my case, the address of record was never used to send a notice of quiet claim. The law in ND is clear, there has to be a due diligence search for the current mineral owner(s).
How many years ago did the minerals get taken? I would visit with a competent North Dakota attorney who specializes in minerals / oil & gas. There are also several members of this forum who are very educated in North Dakota specific issues. Even if you get cant get the minerals back, you may still have cause to seek damages and possibly criminal charges against them. Failure to do due diligence can come with consequences.
I've heard of a similar issue in Texas, and it sounds to me like some counties just don't have any respect for absentee land (and mineral) owners. The fact that you own minerals across North Dakota shows that it would have been very easy for someone to find valid information to notify you of any action. I research addresses every day at work, and if a 1996 instrument filed at the County was the only document I ever used, 99% of addresses would be bad. How hard is it to search Google for 5 minutes to locate a person. I'm sure a jury would agree.
Thanks everyone for your responses. We are in the process of getting minerals back. It happened in 2012. We file our Statement of Claims every 10 years not 20. The attorney clearly committed fraud. Our addresses on the last 2 SOC’s were current. We have a website. No excuse in him trying to locate us. Joe ND doesn’t tax mineral interest (yet) so I would not be able to monitor that way. We have minerals in 28 States… We are not a large company. We did our due diligence in filing SOC’s and responsible in following law set out before us. Again we file every 10 years not 20. Joe what suggestion do you have to monitor? Newspaper clipping services… Anyone have a recommendation?
The only suggestion I have which is what I do is at least once each year check for activity in the areas of which you own mineral interest. I even go as far as to check county recorder records on occasion. There is no protection against someone willing to commit fraud or theft only solutions after the fact. They had a wave of fraud here where people in California were recording deeds of sales of mineral interest they never owned. Just like in your case, one can not truly own what is taken by fraud.
You might try using a new startup software named MineralSoft. We are looking into its use in hopes it will allow us to track activity in each piece of property as reported to the state of Oklahoma, to find where we are being paid inaccurately, to see when wells have been drilled in a section but we're not being paid. I've seen a demo and we are going through the paperwork now. I'll let you know how it looks in a few months. Setup will take a bit for us; we have several properties, but it's for that reason that we need such a tool. Our contact is Charles Bush, 601-540-6611. MineralSoft is out of Austin.
I’ll be checking and watching this… Thanks so much for sharing!!!'n