Unclear Deed Conveyance

Can someone tell me what the “industry standard” would be concerning whether the following words (written in a warranty deed) would be considered a possible conveyance of mineral rights, or more specifically, a lack of the reservation thereof. In this instance, the “conveyor” was a bank that had repossesed the property and was selling it to me. This is my deed. No one in the past had reserved any of the “interest” in the “minerals” that are mentioned in this deed. I’m told that this deed was poorly written, and I understand fully that the intrepretation of these words depends upon the intent of the seller (i.e., the bank). However, I was wondering whether I need to get this title cleaned up so that an oil company will honor my (mineral) rights or so a landman will not presume that I have none of those rights. Thanks. (By the way, the bank no longer exists, which causes me to have another question, namely “under someone’s presumption that the bank DID reserve these mineral rights, who would the owner thereof now be and how could their ownership thereof be either proven or disproven? as I’m told that if mineral ownership is transferred, there will be a record thereof due to an excise tax being paid at the time of transfer.”)

THE TITLE SAYS: . . . . to wit:

(legal description here) LESS AND EXCEPT the east 25 feet for road purposes. (paragraph ends)

(new paragraph begins) LESS AND EXCEPT all interest in and to all of the oil, gas and other minerals in and under that may be produced from said premises; interest and estates of whatsoever nature incident to or growing out of said outstanding minerals. (paragraph ends)

together with all the improvements thereon . . . . . .

Generally, deed interpretation is based on the written terms as a whole, based on state law (statutes plus case law) and not intent of parties. You should consult an Oklahoma attorney with expertise in title law. There are attorneys listed on this forum. Interpretation of your deed will be limited to that document. For a complete opinion, you will need the prior deeds.

Thanks. What state are you from? I saw a case here in OK where the decision was based on intent. They hashed it out in court based on intent, not on words.

Novice- based on the information provided, the grantee obtained no minerals in this conveyance.

I’m a landman, NOT an attorney, but I’ve run a lot of title. I’d have to see the entire deed itself to be sure, but from what you wrote, I would not transfer mineral rights to the Grantee of this document. This sounds like a surface only conveyance. If you can post images of the entire document, you’d be able to get a more certain answer.

Thanks Mr. Landman. That being the case, would you automatically assume the current grantor kept the mineral rights or would you suspect he might have possibly been referring to previous grantors who might have kept them when he referred to “interest” when he was writing up the warranty deed? And what it “he” is a bank who had repossed that surface property with unsevered minerals? In other words, if you saw this deed while running titles for a driller, and seeing the grantor was a bank who had repossed it, would you, without hesitation, assume the current grantor (the bank) kept the mineral rights at this particular conveyance? For example, would you have enough suspicion to at least contact the grantee to see what he had to say about it? And what state are you in? I hear Oklahoma is really messed up in this area of determining who owns minerals, which if that is the case, would that not arouse your suspicion, given what is at stake here?

Everything I’ve written below is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Everything I’ve written below is based on the assumption that I would be running the mineral rights from sovereignty (the beginning) to present.

“That being the case, would you automatically assume the current grantor kept the mineral rights or would you suspect he might have possibly been referring to previous grantors who might have kept them when he referred to “interest” when he was writing up the warranty deed?”

If I, or any other landman, were running mineral title on this, we would already know who owns the minerals (and if the bank had any interest in them) by the time we got to this document. There’s nothing in what you’ve written that necessarily tells me the bank absolutely owns some portion of the minerals, just that if they do, they’re not including them in the deed.

“And what it “he” is a bank who had repossed that surface property with unsevered minerals? In other words, if you saw this deed while running titles for a driller, and seeing the grantor was a bank who had repossed it, would you, without hesitation, assume the current grantor (the bank) kept the mineral rights at this particular conveyance? For example, would you have enough suspicion to at least contact the grantee to see what he had to say about it?”

If, while running title, I had reached the conclusion that the bank had title to the minerals, then I would say that they reserved them in this deed. If I saw something later on, like a correction, affidavit, stipulation of interest, etc., stating otherwise, then I would change my answer. I know this is frustrating to hear, but no, there is nothing in what you’ve told me that would warrant me making a note to my client that they should contact the grantee of this document for clarification on mineral ownership. It’s not a matter of assumption, it’s a matter of what the document says. The intent of the Grantor is not relevant in my reporting unless the intent of the Grantor is specifically clarified in the document.

“And what state are you in? I hear Oklahoma is really messed up in this area of determining who owns minerals, which if that is the case, would that not arouse your suspicion, given what is at stake here?”

I’m in Texas, not Oklahoma. I’ve never done Oklahoma title. My purpose in answering your questions is to let you know how a landman would reasonably interpret your deed based on the information you’ve chosen to share here. I’m not saying you don’t own mineral rights at all, or that you don’t have a chance or opportunity to obtain them. I haven’t seen this document. I haven’t run this title. There very well may be something in your title chain that clarifies the mineral ownership. I’m saying the “LESS AND EXCEPT all interest in and to all of the oil, gas and other minerals…” paragraph you wrote in your first post would reasonably be interpreted as a mineral reservation by an experienced landman.

I’m not trying to sound cold-hearted by what I’m going to say next. It’s clear to me that this is important to you. A landman’s job is to report what record title reflects. If there is a problem or an ambiguity with a document, we will note that. We’ll speak to other landmen and attorneys we work with and get their opinions on the document. But at the end of the day, we report record title as best we can, and we always try to err on the side of caution. You said you’ve been told that this is a poorly written document. Maybe it is. I haven’t seen it in its entirety. Perhaps there’s an ambiguity in it that would raise some questions as to whether or not the minerals were reserved or sold. All I can say is I’ve gone over that paragraph at least ten times, and I don’t see anything that would cause me to change my interpretation.

I think at this point, if you have the understanding that the bank should have included the mineral rights in this deed, you’re best option is to contact an oil and gas law attorney in the area where your land is located. There is a directory on this website that can help you with that. Collect all documentation you have regarding the transaction (deed, letters, emails, voicemails, etc.) that show the Grantor’s intentions and get in touch with an attorney. They will be better equipped with helping you solve this problem. You could also consider hiring a landman with experience in your county to give you a better understanding of the mineral ownership on your property.

Please let me know if you have any more questions. Good luck!

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No, Oklahoma is not messed up, but title can be complicated. I have done Oklahoma title for 38 years. The deed you are questioning is about as simple as it gets. Landmen don’t have anything at stake. We report what the records show and make no speculations as to what anyone’s intent is. That is for the courts to determine. If the grantee of your deed in question didn’t think the conveyance was written the way it was agreed to, then the grantee should have corrected it at the time.

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