There is often a lot of confusion about mineral rights. While someone else may own the land and the buildings above the ground, another person or corporate entity might have ownership of the mineral rights below the surface.
The first place to start if you are trying to acquire the mineral rights to a property is to discern whether they have been severed from the surface estate. Still confused? Here’s how that works.
Unsevered mineral rights go with the property
If you own a tract of land and the mineral rights were never severed from the surface estate, what lies underneath the ground still belongs to you. But that should not be assumed, or you could wind up in legal hot water if you attempt to harvest the gas, oil or coal that lies below.
To remain in the clear, you will need to seek a legally binding title opinion regarding the minerals. Without this, substantiating the mineral ownership and all income derived from it is impossible.
Mineral title opinions can be complex
Land began being deeded to purchasers back in the 18th and 19th centuries in most areas of the country. But if much time has passed since the land was originally deeded, the mineral estate may no longer be linked to the land.
If you are lucky, the surface and mineral rights may have remained in a single family for generations. But far more likely, either or both have changed ownership many, many times. Failing to ascertain the true ownership of the mineral rights you seek to sell or harvest is a sure path to costly litigation and even possible criminal charges.