Like many different kinds of highly valuable property, mineral rights must be recorded with a government official. Similar to real estate or automotive purchases, mineral rights can transfer between owners, but only once the official paperwork has been documented and signed.
As there are many questions regarding any legal stipulations about land ownership, we’ve put together this guide to help clear some things up below the Earth’s surface. In this glossary and FAQ, we will define some of the most commonly used terms in official mineral rights records before providing additional resources to help localize your questions and answers.
What are mineral rights?
If you are just getting up to speed with your purchased or inherited land, first you must understand what it means to own mineral rights. Available as part of a fee simple estate, or purchased separately in a split estate, mineral rights entitle the owner to any valuable resources that can be found beneath the earth.
Most commonly, mineral rights are associated with oil and gas used for energy, manufacturing, and more. Mineral rights are not available in all areas, available only to Americans, Canadians, and residents of a handful of other countries.
How are mineral rights recorded?
Officially, mineral rights are recorded with a mineral rights deed. If you own your land in a fee simple estate, then there may not be a separate deed for your subsurface rights, but rather it will be designated as part of your whole property. Knowing this, it is important to completely understand what property rights are being conveyed in the event of a sale or purchase.
Physically, mineral rights records exist in a government office or digital database. Copies of deeds are often kept by local governments so as to retain a record and solve any disputes about the property. A copy should also be kept by the mineral rights holder so that he or she can legitimize ownership before entering into an oil and gas lease.
What is a recorder of deeds?
A recorder of deeds in a government official, office, or entity that is responsible for the processing and maintenance of public record deeds. While almost all deeds are recorded physically, in-person, the practice of digital databases for mineral rights deeds has only become more prevalent since the turn of the 21st century.
How to Find your Recorder of Deeds
It is very easy to find your local recorder of deeds before entering into a property transaction. If you live in a city, check with the city office. If you live outside of town, which is much more common for mineral rights negotiations, then it is likely that your recorder of deeds will be at the county level.
Deed recording practices vary heavily from state to state. If you are in an area that is currently being used for oil, gas, or other resource production, then your local office may have a designated recorder of deeds solely for mineral rights transactions.
What does the recording of a deed do?
Whenever a deed becomes recorded, the property owner can officially claim the rights to whatever is described in the document. Recording typically occurs during the transfer of ownership from one individual or entity to another. Once a deed is recorded, mineral rights owners are then free to enter oil and gas leases to receive mineral royalty payments for the valuable resources extracted and sold from the property.
Are recorded deeds public information?
Yes, more often than not, recorded deeds are considered to be public information. While not just anyone can access them, deed recordings are necessary to be considered public information in the event of a legal dispute or future transfer of ownership.
Are unrecorded deeds valid?
Surprisingly, unrecorded deeds are still considered valid in many states across the country. So long as the buyer and the seller have agreed to terms, an unrecorded deed may still be valid if the new owner wants to pursue new ventures with the land itself. With public records, however, some difficult scenarios can arise if someone were to impersonate a deed owner.
When should I record my mineral rights deed?
We recommend recording your mineral rights deed as soon as possible after you purchase your new property. In doing so, the world will become aware of the new owner, and oil and gas companies may begin to contact you with lease offers. However, mineral rights deeds in some states may not be legally required to be recorded under any specific time period. Therefore, you can take several months or years before officially recording your deed.