Have you recently had a property transferred to your name? Ownership of the piece of land is known as the surface rights estate, which includes everything on top of the land, such as structures and greenery. Ownership of anything beneath the ground, including oil and gas, is referred to as the mineral rights estate. Laws in Texas permit the severance of the two estates to be owned by two separate holders.
How does the severance of surface and mineral rights work? It typically takes place through a deed or a lease execution. The deed should name the seller and the buyer in addition to stating the rights being sold or given. The owner of the mineral estate is entitled to developing minerals but may be held liable to the surface owner for any damages caused to the surface.
An owner can separate mineral rights from land through a variety of ways. The owner may convey the land but retain the mineral rights through a statement in the deed transferring the land that reserves all mineral rights to the seller. The owner may convey the mineral rights while retaining the land, by which case the seller issues a separate mineral deed to the buyer of the mineral rights. The owner may convey the land to one person and the mineral rights to another. It is important that the mineral rights being sold with the property are owned by the person selling the surface estate, as the person must own the mineral rights to transfer them with the surface estate. At the time of purchase, the title research will disclose information regarding ownership.
How do you know who owns the mineral rights on your property? The only way to determine if a deed conveys mineral rights is to review the property’s chain of title. The chain of title ensures that the mineral rights were not previously severed and are included in the surface estate or may aid in the search for the current owner of the minerals. If the mineral rights have been severed from the property–by reservation in a deed or transfer to a third party or heir–a title search may trace the mineral title as far as possible.
If you need assistance determining whether you own the mineral rights to your property or have questions regarding how to convey them, we welcome you to contact one of our experienced real-estate attorneys at 713-572-4900.