The cost varies with how complicated and how large the title chain is. An opinion could range from $5,000 to $50,000, with the norm being much closer to the lower end of that range.
A title opinion serves multiple purposes, but is primarily to identify potential title defects. These opinions are usually requested by operators who are planning to invest millions in a well and want to know that their security, the leases, are indeed secure and were validly acquired from the actual owner of the mineral rights. Title opinions are often gotten by operators to calculate the division of interest (DOI) for an entire unit so they know how much royalty to pay to each party.
Mineral owners don't usually get title opinions for themselves. In those cases, there is likely a dispute as to what the person owns. Another person may claim title to all or a portion of the minerals, and an opinion would be rendered as a precursor to litigation. Or, an operator may claim a person has one ownership interest, but the mineral owners believe they have more, and they would have to show legal justification to support their claim in order to get the operator to change their payments.
If a mineral owner does not have an adverse claim or dispute, a runsheet by a qualified landman would be sufficient and far more affordable if they wanted to determine their interests.
If you do need a title opinion make sure you get a lawyer with knowledge and experience on runing title so it can be done without a lot of waisted time since most Lawyers charge per time ie per hour. Ask for their rates and estimate of what it will cost. A lot of lawyers with title experience also have ownership in Title Companies that makes it easy to run title. Of course you could go to Court House and run your own title. If you want it just for your self like Andrew said above a good Landman could do it maybe at much less of cost compared to lawyer. Just make sure you understand the charges ahead of hiring some one to run the Title for you. If you have a small % of undivided minerals thru several generations if maybe too costly to run yourself. All this could vary depending what state you live in--- Texas-La. Ark--- all mineral ownership have different Laws involving title.
Even if you pay a lot to a title co., there is no guarantee from them that you have minerals. They will give a title OPINION. There is no insurance that you can buy to reimburse you if the attorney made a mistake ( I know as I have experience with this). Owner's title ins. does not cover minerals. Correct me if I am wrong.
Kitty--- I don't think anyone was talking about Title Insurance like is available for Land or property just a "Title opinion" of who is owner of minerals based on running the mineral owners as property changes hand from sell or inheritance and if minerals had been separated from land at any time. You would only do this if you think you own minerals from inheritance or thru purchase land and you need to prove ownership
The property is in De Soto Parish. And yes an oil company told me that I don't own minerals.
And on another property, they have the interest incorrect. (payment decimal)
Ken---Why do you think you own the minerals-- do you have prove of title to the minerals in question? What is bases of oil company saying you do not own the minerals and who do they say the owner is? If you are fighting the oil company you will for sure need a Title opinion from a Lawyer to support your claim and then may require litigation in court. You will need to know who the other party is that has claim of ownership of the minerals and Why. Then you need appraised value of minerals for decision of cost to fight it. How many net mineral acres are you talking about and possible value. You could spend more money than value of minerals to win but still lose.
Ken, on several occasions I or friends of mine have been told we don't have minerals. With 2 of my friends, I found out last yr. that in each case they have 1/2 minerals. One got a huge sum of back pay, and the other got a small sum of back pay because apparently companies only pay for so many yrs. back. I am not an attorney and don't do titles for a living & didn't charge these people. I just took my time and ran the history of their property back about 60 yrs. and and matched it with Sonris (which I think is a great site). I found a 10 yr. break in production that gave them 1/2 minerals. This was the case with each of my friends. You can purchase the right to online Desoto Parish records and get court house records online. It is $100 mo. & very worth it. It too is an easy site to use.
In my personal case, I have stayed on top of research I did on property I own and showed the oil co. that a servitude was broken. It took me 2 yrs. for them to agree with me, but I got a check for owned royalties 4 months ago after they agreed with me. All of the companies I have dealt with have been very nice. They want proof and when you give it to them, they will go back to their title departments to reopen their research.
Good insight, and very good advice, KCM. Those folks are lucky to have you as a friend.
Now, as I understand it (and maybe one of our member attorneys will correct me if I'm wrong); but I've been told that landowners/mineral owners have a three year clock on correcting royalty payment mistakes.
Only three years.
In other words, folks can't procrastinate and simply assume that someone else (i.e., someone else such as a well-meaning worker bee in the land office of whatever operator) will want to invest their company time so as to correct a bad record.
Of course, that can happen and sometimes does happen per a landowner finding the right person at an O&G company who can pretty quickly get a glaring mistake fixed. I've had that great luck myself a few times. Indeed, many folks working for the "good" operators are truly honest and are warmhearted and are quite helpful when their bosses let them be that way.
Yet, sometimes a land title or an heirship or a misplaced lease or some such mistake has been inadvertently made, without intent -- and if the legal royalty owner does not step in and try to fix the bad record within 3 years time -- then, in Louisiana -- then, I've been told that such a mistake can't be fixed retroactively via ex post facto. So, after three years (in La.), hang it up. The money is gone (probably forever, short of proving/documenting intentional fraud vis-a-vis a legal mechanism or some lawyer-ing of such).
Yet, I'm not a lawyer and this is not meant to be legal advice.
Hope it helps whomever.
I knew there was some time limit. I know my friends who had a smaller parcel of land with a couple of Cotton Valley producing wells got back pay only for a few years. The rest was lost. What I did for my friends is gather all the info, gave it to them and had them send it to the operators of their land. In both cases (different operators), they reopened title and found the mistake THEY (oil co.) had missed. It is possible for a co. that is doing so many titles to make a mistake, so if you really feel you own minerals, then you should do your homework. Minerals are so valuable and worth pursuing.
Gosh Darn and KCM - you are on point with your discussion on the 3 year period. As Gsh Drn stated, it is not that the company is actively hiding an incorrect interest or mistake. Mistakes just happen, but if you don't catch it, then its at your own risk.
In my work I have been doing more royalty reconciliation lately, and it may only be a few thousand here or there, but you would be amazed at what both sides will miss. Remember, after a well is in pay and the DO analyst has their pay deck set up, they are not going to scrutinize it unless someone questions it. So you can't expect the company to catch everything.
Again, I recommend any landowner, especially with Haynesville production, to seek an attorney or CPL (or at least review on your own) before 3 years from their well's completion date (even though the real 3 years may start from the first actual payment made to you). It helps if the professional has familiarity with royalty statements and reconciling with companies over these issues. Its better to pay a few hundred dollars, or so, for a review at that point than to possibly lose claim for a mistake.
HBP and Goshdarn--- Is not 3 years just all in back royalty the operator is responsible to paid and anything before good luck on getting from who ever they paid or even if in eschow account. But you will receive all future royalty after title is cured in your name with corrected DO. Correct me if wrong you are not limited to filing your claim within 3 years of ownership if you can proof title even if > 3 years before it became know to you. I am speaking in Texas so this may not be same and correct in La. If there is question I am sure Ben can answer on the Texas Law for you. If in La. you only have 3 years to claim it or lose your royalty forever then that SUCKS. Are you saying if you knew and filed claim with proof before the 3 years then the royalty is your until no longer HBP and if not I guess it is claimed by present surface owner then the La. Laws are screwed up.
The concept of what you knew (or could have reasonably known) is available in LA and can have an effect on prescription. contra non valentem. A good discussion is in the recent Wells v. Zadeck case.
The 3 year is just a general rule on royalty payments in LA, but each scenario will have diff. facts. I just suggest that it never hurts to review everything closely on new Haynesville production at least 3 years before you began being paid on that production to be safe.