Most folks in the United States might catch a glimpse of an oil well or two during the course of their lives.
For Oklahomans, you are likely to see a few wells during your drive to work, the grocery store, your house of worship, your gym and, certainly, during a trip our State Capitol building.
One of the questions some Oklahomans may have about oil and gas minerals is “How do I know what I own (because I hope do!)?”
Part of what we do at Ball Morse Lowe PLLC is thoughtfully answer that question. As you may have read in our previous blog posts, we have discussed what to do if a loved one passes and leaves you their mineral interest.
Also, there are things we recommend you should consider when you are offered the option to lease (and maybe you read about what to expect in a Pooling Action). But how do you know if you or your family has a mineral interest at all, and how does it come to be your mineral interest?
Oklahoma’s Tract Index System
To accurately determine what a person individually owns, or more broadly, who owns in a particular section of 640 acres, a person must run title and tract the ownership. These records are primarily found in local county courthouses.
Our system in Oklahoma is called the Tract Index system, which is where title is tracked from the original owners of that land to each of their successors. Generally, an interest in land begins with a Patent from the United States government or as lands granted as part of an Indian allotment.
Where the Records Are Found
Once the proper section, township and range have been determined for the location of the mineral interest, a Ball Morse Lowe title attorney follows that particular property through the various conveyances and transfers of interest that appear of record. The documents where they are recorded are typically referred to as “instruments.”
Tracking the Ownership
During ownership, an owner of land may sever the mineral interests from the surface rights to the property. A Title Attorney examines all the information, each instrument, year by year until the present.
We use our knowledge of Oklahoma Statutes, federal law (especially as to Restricted Land) and what a group of attorneys from all over the state have decided over the many years are the Title Examination Standards. At that point, an attorney advises a client what they need for the title to be marketable.
We hope that you will consider Ball Morse Lowe, PLLC to be your firm for analyzing and helping you answer the question “What do I own?” Call us today at 405-701-5355.