I recently received a lease from a landman who stated that I owned mineral rights to land in White County. I found an old lease agreement from 1974 that my parents had received but I don't believe they signed it. I do know that my ancestors lived there and were prominent settlers. I told the landman that I did not want to warrant the mineral title and he was not happy. How can I research this information since I am not local. Any advice will be appreciated.
Your "problem" comes up far more often than people realize.
You'll have to hire a trustworthy individual, experienced in piecing together the chain of title to chase down all the records and documents that your ancestors may have signed or agreed to.
Then that person will have to cross-reference that info with any documents that may have been filed prior to the 1974 lease you found, concerning ownership of the parcel your minerals are under.
After that, they will have to find any easements, Mineral Grants, Deeds, or other things that show a straight line from them to you and your sisters, to determine your right to lease or get the royalties the energy buyer will have held in suspension since your parent's demise (if there's current production).
The landman that approached you may have done a cursory search that indicated your interest, or simply went through the tax rolls to get the name of the folks that pay taxes for the land they want to lease.
The folks that do this sort of work (in my experience) charge about $650 a day plus expenses, and it could take a week or more to tie down one property.
The "advantage" of hiring this out is that you may now warrant title to whatever mineral interests they find, without having to worry that years from now, someone will sue.
I just got through almost a year of driving around the country, stopping at over 30 courthouses in 5 states to chase down interests held by my Grandfather since the mid-20s.
The fruits of this labor are 3 more operators are releasing funds held in suspension since his death, and we now have an inventory of minerals and leases that we could sell piecemeal or expand our positions as other holders die off.
Oh yeah, and we got to write it all off on our taxes.