Recently I discovered that my mother has mineral rights to land in Mississippi. The claims were acquired in the late 1940’s by my grandfather. They are partial claims (2/33, 1/6, 1/2, etc.) to mineral rights on several hundred acres in three counties in eastern and central MS. I have a file full of correspondence and stamped deeds from the 40’s through the 90’s and have started the process of sorting and indexing them.
There appear to be about a dozen small parcels of land involved. The deeds cite the county, section, township, and range and describe approximate acreage in terms of landmarks and boundaries. For example: “all of the SW 1/4 and SE 1/4 lying S & W of Bonner Creek and W of Ridge Road” is typical of the descriptions on the deeds.
My grandfather died shortly after he acquired the claims; over the years, my mother accepted various lease offers which typically lasted for 2-3 years. We never struck it rich, but it’s provided a small income over many years. In the 1990’s my family moved several times and since then, we have not been contacted regarding these claims, as I assume between all the changes of address, no one was able to locate us.
On the MS state Oil and Gas Board website, I’ve found a number of records of wells (mostly dry holes, but some producing) that may be on our claims. I’ve come to the conclusion that, at some point, I will have to engage the services of an oil and gas attorney to help resolve all this, but the expense of doing such may be more than the claims are worth, so I’d like to be able to accomplish as much as I possibly can on my own before that point. Questions:
I’ve heard that in the event a drilling company is unable to contact the holder of the mineral rights, they can proceed with drilling as long as they place any royalties in an escrow account…is this true? Is it possible, however unlikely, that there’s money out there waiting for us to claim?
Does the county assessor’s office typically record the contact info for the mineral rights holders along with the landowners in their records, and if not, who should I contact in order to update the information so that we can be reached in the future?
If I suspect a particular well is located on one of our holdings, should I contact the drilling company directly or wait until I’ve retained counsel?
How would I go about determining the GPS coordinates of these section/township/range borders?
What is a “scout card”?
What is the meaning of “Bottle & Bond”? As in, “this is clearly a case of bottle and bond.”
I realize this is specialized knowledge, that most of us aren’t lawyers, etc. I’m just looking to accumulate as much information as possible in hopes I might keep legal research costs to a minimum. Any advice or guidance in terms of resources is greatly appreciated. If we strike it big I’ll fund the next DopeFest!