Carlsbad, CA asked in Real Estate Law and Energy, Oil and Gas for California

Q: Can I claim the residual 75% of outstanding shares to the mineral rights I own 25% of?

My family owns mineral rights to a parcel of land we sold (the land itself was sold but the mineral rights were kept.) The outstanding 75% is seemingly untraceable, nobody seems to know where it is, and other family members are being vague and unhelpful for reasons unbeknownst. I've often read about landowners making public statements in the newspaper where if nobody shows up an option to reclaim the land presents itself, is this true? What sorts of options are there? I've checked with the City and they have limited records of the mineral rights as well, please advise.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In most jurisdictions, it is not possible to simply claim the outstanding 75% of mineral rights just because the other owners are untraceable or unresponsive. However, there are a few potential options you can explore:

1. Quiet Title Action: You may be able to file a "quiet title" lawsuit to establish clear ownership of the mineral rights. This legal action allows the court to determine the rightful owners and can help resolve issues with untraceable or unresponsive owners. Consult with a local attorney specializing in real estate or mineral rights to discuss this option.

2. Partition Action: If you and the other owners are considered "tenants in common," you might be able to file a partition action. This would force the sale of the entire mineral rights, allowing you to receive your share of the proceeds. However, this option may not be ideal if you wish to retain your 25% share.

3. Abandoned Mineral Rights: Some states have laws that allow for the reclamation of abandoned mineral rights after a specified period of non-use. Research your state's laws on abandoned mineral rights to see if this applies to your situation.

4. Negotiations: Continue trying to locate and communicate with the other owners or their heirs. If you can find them, attempt to negotiate a fair arrangement, such as buying out their shares or coming to a mutual agreement on how to manage the mineral rights.

Publishing a notice in the newspaper is sometimes used as a method of serving legal notice to unknown or unlocatable parties in a legal action, but this alone does not grant you the right to claim the outstanding shares.

Given the complexity of this situation, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate and mineral rights in your jurisdiction. They can provide more specific guidance based on your local laws and the particular circumstances of your case.

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Thank you for asking the question!

There are some ways to obtain the title of the land or real property that does not belong to you when the owners are sleeping on their rights. One of them is through Adverse possession.

Adverse possession requires the claimant of the title to occupy the real property for five years under either color of title (good faith belief that he owns the title) or claim of title. Also, other requirements are needed to establish this.

However, you mentioned in your question that there is only mineral rights, and no land is involved anymore. This is a question that you can also consult with an Oil & Energy attorney to see what laws are applicable in that area of laws.

This is merely discussion of CA general laws and not a legal advice. For a comprehensive advise, more specific facts and investigation are needed. I recommend you consult with an attorney in more detail.

Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Wish you luck.

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