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Are mineral rights part of the property your family inherited?

You and your siblings inherited some real estate in California, and you want to buy their portion of the land from them. The energy industry development in nearby areas has you hoping that one day you will be able to lease the mineral rights of the property in exchange for royalties. However, before your siblings agree to sell and you fix a price, you need to find out first if the mineral rights are attached to the surface rights, or if someone else owns them.

According to the Herald-Standard, even if you have the deed in hand and it mentions the mineral rights, you may still not be able to tell if they truly are conveyed with the surface rights. The correct information about the mineral rights will be contained in documents at the local county courthouse. These documents may include the following types of records:

  • Mortgages
  • Deeds
  • Leases
  • Royalty leases
  • Liens

Through this research, you may be able to discover the chain of title for the rights. However, there is still the possibility that an unrecorded document may show up later, or a title abstractor may have made a mistake in the past when searching the chain of title. Because of the risk, most title insurance companies do not offer policies covering mineral rights titles. 

As the person making the purchase, the responsibility to ensure a clean title will probably be yours. Most people hire a professional who understands the legal language of the documents involved and the process of the search to prevent mistakes from leading to costly damage claims.

While this information may help you understand what is involved in determining whether mineral rights have been severed from surface rights, it is general in nature, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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