RE HIGHTOWER STATE UNIT #U43H and #U34H [Operator: Centennial Resources]
I and my siblings have all of a sudden gotten several offers for our Mineral & Royalty interests in the above-referenced property in Reeves County, Tx. The issue is, we had thought we sold this property as part of a larger piece of land back in 2017. This was property named the “Bell-State” property; inherited from my grandfather, Harry Bell.
[640 acres of Section 48, Block 51, Township 7 South, Abstract 2756, T & P Railroad Company Survey]
I have been unable to get any helpful information from Reeves County. Any ideas on how I can find out if we still have any interests --or-- are these offers no good??
@David_F_Naumes the only determinant of whether you own minerals or not (anywhere) is the legal descriptions contained within any documents that convey the minerals away. In other words, it’s the words on the paper that know. No one’s opinions count for anything.
The first (and often most important) step in prudent mineral management is to know what you own. Get professional help if you do not have it. Professional help that has you and you alone as a fiduciary.
If you accept someones offer to buy it, its up to them to run title to see if you actually own it. So that is one way to figure out if these offers are good or not.
If you are getting multiple offers that would suggest that you are in the tax rolls on those wells, but if you are no longer getting paid by Centennial that might be a tip that Centennial thinks you don’t own it. Etc.
That or find the deed from 2017 and see what was conveyed to the purchaser.
If you sell something you don’t own or sell it twice to different parties than I believe that is fraud. Yes the other party should do their due diligence and make sure you own the property but the seller also has a responsibility. The paperwork you will have to sign to sell it will say you own it free and clear, and you have to sign it and have it notarized, saying you in fact own it. Maybe you could stipulate you are not warranting title but I would consult an attorney, which I am not. Good luck.
Perhaps you could ask the interested buyer for a copy of the title opinion they ran to see how they came to the conclusion that you and your siblings own the interests. I believe asking an operator for a title opinion worked for one of the hosts on the Mineral Rights Podcast. You could then have a lawyer or CPL look it over for you.
I’m not a lawyer and everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to sell something you’re unsure you own. Consulting with a lawyer to confirm what you do and don’t own could save you lots of time and prevent trouble. You don’t want to accidentally find yourselves in a lawsuit.
Forgot to mention, that “buyers” of mineral rights will send out broadcast emails or letters to all past or present owners of land without having checked to see if they actually own or ever owned any mineral rights to the property.
In this way, they can get their names out to the general public as potential sources of capital that specialize in buying mineral rights, (marketing) and a potential warm call back from the past or present owners that keeps them from having to “cold call” owners. In other words, it is a part of a concerted marketing/sales effort that can be done on a broad scale without putting a lot of out of pocket operating costs into the effort.
It becomes a no lose situation for them, since they may receive a cold call from the present or past owners that could produce a potential purchase of mineral rights for their portfolio and on a worst case scenario, they got their name out to a broad group of people that may pass their information onto others that have mineral right interests.
I would propose that you first go to you sales documents and see what you actually sold to the buyer of this land. Depending upon when your grandfather bought this property, mineral rights may have been part of the purchase when he bought the property or not, In Texas, mineral rights are usually severed from the surface rights. Thus, you may have never owned the mineral rights depending upon the date of purchase by your grandfather.
(Property owners should ensure that they carefully study their property’s land title records to verify whether the surface rights and mineral rights are included as part of their purchase. These documents are generally available through the records offices of the local property appraisal authority or the county clerk’s office.)
At any rate, you should have a copy of the deed that was issued as a part of the closing documents provided to the buyer of the land, to determine if there were any mineral rights transferred or not. If they had been severed before you acquired the land from your grandfather, you never owned mineral rights to begin with. If not, you may actually own the mineral rights to the land even though the surface rights were sold.
This should be evident simply by reviewing the deed you provided the buyer of your property. Whatever you transferred by title on the date of sale would most likely have been covered by title insurance, which means a title insurance company reviewed in detail whether or not you owned what you were attempting to sell. The insurance company took on the risk of insuring to the buyer that you had good clean title.
If the deed work shows that you conveyed mineral rights as a part f the transaction, you have your answer.
If the deed work shows that you did NOT transfer mineral rights to the new buyer, then you will need to go back to the title you received from your grandfathers ESTATE. Assuming the real estate title was transferred to you and the other heirs pursuant to the probate court, the answer to your ultimate question is not as straight forward. There are a couple of ways for the heirs to acquire title through probate. 1) Through an affidavit of succession or 2) Beneficiary Deed.
If you find yourselves in this position, you will most likely want to contact an attorney for advice to determine whether there were any mineral rights transferred to the heirs by probate.
Your question is not clear as to whether you or your grandfather has ever received any royalties on an oil & gas play from this property. If either of you have received payments, that would suggest that you or your grandfather did own the mineral rights at some time. Then it becomes a relatively simpler task of checking the deed work to see if the mineral rights were ever deeded away to other buyers.
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