Owning property can raise a lot of questions, especially if your property is underground. Mineral rights entitle owners to the precious minerals below the Earth’s surface.
What happens when a mineral rights owner passes away or simply neglects their asset? In this article, we will explore the question “do mineral rights expire?”
Reverting Mineral Rights to Land Owners
Usually, if you own your property then you own your mineral rights. Sometimes, however, the mineral rights and surface rights can be divided into a split estate. If you purchase a plot of land, but the seller retains ownership of the mineral rights, then they can still operate a well on your property.
In some states, a defined period of inactive mineral rights ownership will cause mineral rights expiration. Here, the ownership of the mineral rights reverts back to the landowner. Depending on your location, this could be anywhere from 1 to 20 years.
In other cases, landmen can trace back centuries worth of land deeds in order to correctly identify the mineral rights owner or heir. Always check your state’s mineral rights laws before purchasing a split estate.
Mineral Rights Reservations
In rare instances, some parts of the country have designated special mineral rights reservations for the preservation of the earth. Most commonly, large companies selling their mineral rights will transfer the ownership of some of the land to a new party, while setting aside some for federal reservation. In this case, the mineral rights will not expire so long as the contract outlines the details of the reserve.
So, do mineral rights expire? Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. In the past 50 years, more and more states have fought to revert mineral rights to landowners in the event of an abandoned split estate. Famously, mineral rights expire after 10 years in Louisiana and after 20 years in Ohio and North Dakota.