The holidays are over and the credit card bills are about to come rolling in. Most everyone could use some extra cash right about now. You may be in luck. The state may be holding your mineral royalties and waiting for you to claim them. If you think that may be the case, or if you are just curious and hoping for the best, there are a number of steps you can take to find out if there is cash in your future.
Each and every state has unclaimed property laws, also known as escheat laws, which require companies that are holding unclaimed or abandoned property to turn that property over to the state. Once the unclaimed property is reported to the state, it then maintains custody of the property until the rightful owner appears and claims the property. In fact, many states have adopted laws that allow the state to use unclaimed funds in order to finance education and other programs. They only need to maintain a small amount of property to pay owners who appear.
Currently, most states have unclaimed property laws that explicitly include and define minerals proceeds wherein unclaimed property laws do not apply to the underlying real property or mineral interest itself, but just to the payments due in exploiting those rights.
Fracking increases the likelihood that mineral rights were abandoned because it greatly increases the value of previously unprofitable. Most of it was previously considered worthless. Companies and county assessors may, therefore, have outdated owner information. This is particularly true if the mineral rights were sold or passed to heirs who viewed them as worthless.
Therefore, your best bet is to do a search online. If you go to the website for the state in which you believe you have mineral rights, you will be able to search mineral holdings. Most states have websites that are specifically set up for claim research.
You will need to enter as much information as possible on the family members that you believe may have held mineral rights. Be sure to do this in the state where they lived. You will also be required, to have both the first and last name of the former owners. It is also helpful to know where the mineral claim was located, and when your family members owned the mineral rights at that location.
If you do find that a relative was selling mineral rights, you will need to submit a claim for any and all unclaimed royalties you find. You must do so by following the procedure on each state’s website. Be sure to include as much information as you can about your relationship to those who owned the claim. You may also need to submit proof of your relationship to the person who owned the claim, along with your inheritance rights. Once you have submitted your claim online, that state’s mineral rights department will contact you. Be aware that they may request additional information or proof of relationship.