Relinquishment Act Lands

In 2013, my husband sold the minerals(a very small percentage) he owned under 640 acres of land in Winkler County, TX. In 2017 he sold the minerals under 460 acres adjacent to it. Same percentage.

As far as we know they were both mineral classified leases. We have been paying taxes on the surface for the property we sold in 2013. The company that bought the minerals on the 460 acres said they were not interested in the surface rights. Then they came back with the fact that it is Relinquishment Act Land and that the surface and minerals cannot be severed, so they own the surface, too.

Now someone is wanting to put a pipeline across both parcels of land and are contacting me for permission. I have informed them about what we were told about the RAL and they say that the deed does not show that the first company bought the surface.

Can anybody clear this up. Thanks for your help.

If the lands are subject to the Relinquishment Act, then the minerals cannot be sold. The owner of the soil is agent for the State and must use a State approved lease form and the State signs off on the lease.

Without seeing anything else, I tend to agree with the right of way agent. Make sure that not only do you not warrant title, but you disclaim warranty. An example of a disclaimer of warranty in an oil and gas lease would be here:


Buddy Cotten

You need to consult an oil and gas title attorney immediately to review the exact wording of the deed. Give him all the facts, as well as other related records, so he can make sure you are protected from any possible cause of action. If you sold to a mineral buying campany, it is hard to believe that they did not understand RAL tracts and may have had some plan. For all you know, they will accuse you of some kind of deception or fraud. Did the deed warrant title to the minerals? In the future, do not sell anything without legal counsel and his review of the documents. Do not accept the opinion of a landman for the pipeline company as he is not representing your interests. Likely he will want you to sign an ROW that contains warranty language and that could make your situation worse. No one can give you a definite answer without seeing 100% of all the related data.

If the minerals you owned were mineral classified then the surface was sold along with it. The deed should say in there somewhere that the interest being sold is mineral classified. I think the right of way agent doesn't understand what mineral classified really means. It doesn't have to stipulate in the deed that the interest being conveyed is minerals and surface because that is implied when dealing with mineral classified lands.

When we have bought relinquishment, mineral classified lands before, we have added the following wording to the deed: "The lands granted herein by Grantor are 'Mineral Classified Lands' as defined by the Relinquishment Act (Section 52.171 et seq. of The Texas Natural Resources Code) which governs the ownership and leasing of Relinquishment Act Lands"

No specific wording is added such as "surface and minerals" because it is implied when dealing with mineral classified lands.

Tell the right of way agent to contact the party you sold to.



This is not valid legal advice and should not be taken as such. From a legal perspective, Texas interprets deeds based on the "4-corners" of the document and what matters is the exact wording of the deed and not the intent of the parties or implied intent. For example, the courts have held that even when sellers have a sales contract which specifies that they are only selling the surface and retaining the minerals and then by error the deed does not reserve the minerals, then the sellers do not get the minerals. Similarly, mineral owners intending to sell one of several mineral interets have been tricked into signing deeds that describe one tract but include language "and all other minerals in the county" and then they lose all their minerals. Margaret and her husband need to consult an attorney about the exact wording in their particular deed. She says the buyer stated that it wanted no surface. If there were existing leases at the time, then depending on the language, she may have sold a part of the future lease revenues and retained the interest in future leases; in this case she continues to own 100% of the surface. Many scenarios and results here which depend on the deed and Texas law.

You are correct in saying it should not be taken as legal advice! That being said, what you wrote above is absolutely true when dealing with private fee minerals and surface, you should be very exact in your wording and leave nothing to interpretation. However, this is different as RAL mineral classified lands are bound by state law. Minerals cannot be severed from the surface so there is nothing left for the courts to decide or interpret. It is implied that the surface and minerals are being sold because that particular piece of land she sold was RAL mineral classified so anything she conveys is both mineral and surface estate.

Hope this helps, Margaret!


Do you have case law to back up this position? Under State v Magnolia Petroleum Co., the owners of the surface executed a mineral deed conveying 15/16 of the oil, gas and other minerals and the court held that the instrument was wholly void. Under other cases, it is established that the owner of the soil can sell or assign his share of the royalties, rentals and bonus in an existing RAL lease. This is the reason why Margaret and her husband must consult with an attorney about the deed that they signed.

Okay, TennisDaze, you win. I was just giving my past experiences with buying mineral classified lands.

That makes sense that the court held the instrument at void, as one cannot sell just the mineral estate when it comes to mineral classified lands, both mineral and surface estate are bound to one another. That mineral deed in the Magnolia case was also executed 5 years prior to the establishment of RAL although the court ruled on it later. It also makes sense that one can assign their royalty, rentals and bonus as that is not real property. You are just assigning an income stream essentially that is bound to a lease. The real property is minerals and surface estate.

Margaret, as TennisDaze has mentioned you should ask your attorney for his opinion. Let us know what the attorney says if you reach out to one, I am curious as to his opinion on the subject.

Best of luck,


Thank you all so much. You have given me a lot to think about. My husband passed away two months ago and I am trying to deal with this problem. I do have access to an oil and gas attorney, so I will contact him and see what he says. I was hoping I could handle it on my own, but that would probably not be very wise.

Thank you,


Very sorry to hear that, I hope everything gets resolved quickly and easily. Keep us updated as to what happens.


I sold some property that I inherited had the judge separate the minerals from surface and filed that way in abstract. Sold surface and kept the minerals didn’t want to sell any of it but thats what the will said I had to do.