It is not surprising that the oil boom has brought many changes to North Dakota. The technological advancement of drilling and fracturing in the Bakken area has driven more resident and non-resident mineral owners to sell or lease their rights to oil and gas companies. As a result, there has been some confusion as to how this process works, and how one should go about doing it.
What are Mineral Rights?
Mineral rights are property rights to exploit an area for its minerals and harbors. These rights are separate from land ownership. When an individual owns mineral rights, they have a title that is considered rights to an estate in real property.
All mineral rights owners are allowed to sell, lease, gift, place in a trust or include in an estate plan part or all of the mineral estate. In North Dakota, mineral rights are transferred in one of three ways: by deed, probate or court action.
Selling or Leasing Mineral Rights
In order to sell or lease mineral rights, oil companies must review property records and obtain signatures on leases from title owners or their descendants. After that takes place, oil company attorneys can issue title opinions and state any requirements that must be satisfied before an owner’s share is paid out.
Too often a situation happens when an individual wants to sell or lease their mineral rights, and the title was never transferred from parents, grandparents, or other relatives who originally held the title years ago. To ensure payouts are made to the proper individuals, the oil companies must inform the heirs that they must file specific documents with the county.
A Complex Process
With all of the information required for leasing or selling mineral rights, the entire process of buying or leasing mineral rights is fairly complex and requires an attorney to make sure all loose ends are tied up in the end. At O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss, we have experts who can help you understand your rights and help you move forward with selling or leasing your mineral rights. Visit our website to learn more about us and contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss for assistance.
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