What is a Mineral Deed and when is it voided?
02/21/2009 - Category:Real Property - Deeds - State: AR #15324
Is Mineral Deed Void? When we purchased our land (200 acres) in 2003 (Stone County, AR), our deed contained _Subject to reservations of 3/4 of the mineral rights to prior Grantors_. We accepted the purchase under those conditions as the seller accepted those conditions in his deed. This clause, first appearing on Deeds after 1984, arises from a Mineral Deed dated 1930 from a Wm. Vance to E. G. Catlett. In 1984, Ladd Petroleum filed a Notice of Claim and intent to preserve 3/4 interests in the mineral rights, and they have been paying mineral tax since 1963. The _history_ of these lands have been fully documented by 2 different Title and abstract companies and by myself (through the help of a professional that tracts mineral rights for oil companies). The chain of title is complete and unequivocal. Here is the problem:There is no record whatsoever of Vance ever having title or rights to the Minerals he sold to Catlett in 1930.This land we own was owned by a single family between 1860 and 1956, so the actual chain of title is not terribly complicated, going from brother to son to brother, etc. Likewise, the mineral chain-of-title is readily traced from 1930-2009 (Ladd Petroleum does not own 3/4 interest as they claim, but only 82/256; the remaining 110/256 is actually owned by others).The problem is the 1930 Vance to Catlett Mineral Deed. How did Vance gain ownership to these mineral rights? We know that the sale of these Mineral Rights, if it occurred, had to occur between 1918 and 1930 (part of the land in the 1930 Deed refers to land acquired from the US Govt under the Homestead Act in 1918, thus it could not have been earlier and since Vane sold them in 1930, it cannot be earlier). During this time (1914-1941), there were only 2 owners (Carl and William). In no Warranty Deed nor in any Probate is there any mention of the sale of mineral rights or any reservation sin the Deeds and nobody has been able to produce or find any deed or conveyance from Carl, William or anyone else that sold mineral rights to Vance.In addition, many of the original heirs are still living in the area (some 80+ yrs old) and have never heard of a Vance or that the mineral rights were ever sold. Interestingly, the 1930 Vance-Catlett sale occurred in Oklahoma, not AR.Based on the extensive research that has been done, we have every reason to believe that Vance NEVER held legal title to the mineral rights he sold in 1930, although I recognize that a negative can never really be proven.I recognize that we (and our predecessors) were put _on notice_ about this 1930 deed, but does that really matter. Going on the common law assumption that _you cannot sell what you do not own_ , can this 1930 Mineral Deed be deemed void for lack of any conveyance to the seller (Vance). So, the bottom line question I have is: Could a Quite-Title Claim to made alleging that the 1930 Mineral Deed is void because there is no evidence in the record to show that Vance owned the property that he sold. Other than producing a Conveyance to Vance, what defense exists?
Adverse possession is a means by which someone may acquire title to the land of another through certain acts over a defined period of time. In order to establish adverse possession, the possession must be actual, open, continuous, hostile, exclusive, and be accompanied by an intent to hold adversely and in derogation of, and not in conformity with, the right of the true owner.
Mineral estates, may be adversely possessed by various statutes of limitations. However, for that to occur, there typically must be actual possession of the minerals in place, or if the land is vacant and unoccupied, taxes must be paid under color of title for 7 successive years. In the case of oil and gas, actual possession means there must be drilling and production. When production of hydrocarbons ceases, lessors must sue within the statutory period to recover real property held by others in peaceable and adverse possession. Title to minerals beneath the surface is not lost by nonuse nor by adverse occupancy of surface owner under the same claim of title, and the adverse possession statute can only be set in motion by an adverse use of mineral rights, persisted in and continued for the statutory period.
The resolution of the title will be a matter for the court to determine, based on all the facts and circumstances in the case. I suggest you contact a local attorney who can review all the facts and documents involved.
The following is an Arkansas statue:
18-11-106. Adverse possession.
(a) To establish adverse possession of real property, the person and those under whom the person claims must have actual or constructive possession of the real property being claimed and have either:
(1)(A) Held color of title to the real property for a period of at least seven (7) years and during that time paid ad valorem taxes on the real property.
(B) For purposes of this subdivision (a)(1), color of title may be established by the person claiming adversely to the true owner by paying the ad valorem taxes for a period of at least seven (7) years for unimproved and unenclosed land or fifteen (15) years for wild and unimproved land, provided the true owner has not also paid the ad valorem taxes or made a bona fide good faith effort to pay the ad valorem taxes which were misapplied by the state and local taxing authority; or
(2) Held color of title to real property contiguous to the real property being claimed by adverse possession for a period of at least seven (7) years and during that time paid ad valorem taxes on the contiguous real property to which the person has color of title.
(b)(1) The requirements of subsection (a) of this section with regard to payment of ad valorem taxes shall not apply to a person or entity exempt from the payment of ad valorem taxes by law.
(2) For the person or entity exempt from the payment of ad valorem taxes to establish adverse possession of real property, the person or entity must have:
(A) Actual or constructive possession of the real property being claimed and held color of title to the real property for a period of at least seven (7) years; or
(B) Actual or constructive possession of the real property being claimed and held color of title to the real property contiguous to the real property being claimed by adverse possession for a period of at least seven (7) years.
(c) The requirements of this section are in addition to all other requirements for establishing adverse possession.
(d)(1) This section shall not repeal any requirement under existing case law for establishing adverse possession but shall be supplemental to existing case law.
(2) This section shall not diminish the presumption of possession of unimproved and unenclosed land created under § 18-11-102 by payment of taxes for seven (7) years under color of title or the presumption of color of title on wild and unimproved land created under § 18-11-103 by payment of taxes for fifteen (15) consecutive years.
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02/21/2009 - Category: Deeds - State: AR #15324
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