How to find dead parent's Texas mineral rights?
May 11, 2009 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Finding deceased parent's Texas "mineral rights?" How can I do this cheaply?

My pop was married twice. He and his first wife had property in Texas. They sold the land but kept the mineral rights. At least I believe it was called this. My pop told me about it decades ago when I was a kid, so I may have the name wrong. If someone were to find something underground, he would have the rights to it.

Pop and his first wife divorced. He remarried and had me. He passed away decades ago.

I would like to track down any mineral rights he has or had prior to his divorce in the 1950s. The property would be in Texas, possibly Bexar County. How can I do this for cheap / free? Internet methods especially appreciated.

First wife is unavailable & unreliable, so looking for official sources for this information.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total)
If you know the county, or can at least narrow it down to a few, you could try reaching out to the local government. Try reaching out to the Bexar county assessor or the county clerk. Sounds like looking for a needle in a haystack though.

The attorney that drafted your dad's will might be another lead worth following up on.
posted by prunes at 11:42 AM on May 11, 2009

First step would be to call the county clerk of whatever county you want to try. That link is to Bexar County's clerk's office. They seem to have an online record search, which may let you search land records using your father's name. (It requires free registration) Sometimes there is a limit to how far back the digitized records go, in which case calling the clerk's office is your best bet.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:45 AM on May 11, 2009

My pop told me about it decades ago when I was a kid, so I may have the name wrong.

From some quick Googling, it sounds like you're looking for a mineral lease, not surface mineral rights. Mineral rights are attached to the deed, but they can be separated. Sounds like that's what happened. When he sold the property, the new owner separated the rights from the deed, and your dad leased the rights from the new owner. And (again from Googling), it sounds like mineral leases are contract-based.

To me, this makes it sound more needle-in-haystacky, because you're no longer dealing with local government records. (Unless you can track down the new owners through the county clerk or tax assessor's office.) The records are more likely to be held by the lawyer who prepared the contract. Any chance it was the lawyer, or the firm, who handled your dad's estate? That might be one place to start.

Another tack: Mineral leases on land you don't own are pretty much useless unless you extract the oil/gas and profit from it. Any chance your dad brought in a drilling company to do that? You could check with the public library to see which drillers were most active in Bexar during the period of time after the land was sold, and then contact them (if they're still around) to maybe obtain more info.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2009

Mineral rights/leases may also be filed with the Bureau of Land Management even if its on private land. They never throw anything away. Could be a resource. I'd start by calling the closest office to where the property exists. Be prepared for bureaucracy hell.
posted by elendil71 at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2009

I believe that the Texas Railroad Commission deals with this issue.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:08 PM on May 11, 2009

I own some inherited mineral rights in Texas. It's a complicated thing to manage; the specific things I own are items like ".0242361 royalty interest in 107.63 acre Tract B2-3 Marshall Field Unit, Survey, A-354". About 50 of them, collected by a great-grandparent and split and distributed many times. I was given an inventory as part of a bunch of estate paperwork, but honestly the main way I hear about what I own is when an oil production company tries to track me down to sign a lease agreement. That, or a property tax bill arrives.

If it's literally been decades and you've never seen a property tax bill or royalty payment, you'll have a hard time finding them. You may not even own them anymore if they were repossessed because of non-payment of property taxes. The place to start is indeed the county property records, and realistically you need to be prepared to spend hours digging through very old files. Alternately you could hire someone to do the research for you. The expert you are looking for is called a Landman.

If you want to do your own research I'd look for property your father bought or sold in the area. Also dig up the will and probate documents for your father's estate; in theory that real estate property should have been inventoried and distributed at the time of his death.

One organization that might be of further help to you: the Texas chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners.
posted by Nelson at 2:16 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

You either want a landman, or you'll do what a landman does and get to know the county records office.
posted by Good Brain at 5:21 PM on May 11, 2009

Check the paperwork on your dad's first divorce. If they were an asset they should be in there somewhere.
posted by fshgrl at 7:32 PM on May 11, 2009

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