On occasion, the client does not have a deed or legal description for the property. One attorney had success with the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Mapping Division (213) 974-7352. The next step was the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Mineral Rights Division (213) 974-3108. He was greatly assisted. One thing he learned was that APN’s only apply to surface interests and not to underground extraction rights.
Also discovered is that there is a form (PCOR) specifically for Oil and Mineral Rights entitled “Change in Ownership Statement - Oil and Gas Property” (form BOE-502-G, RP-980).
To acquire the legal description, others recommended starting with the oil company (rare); next a landman or title company.
In one situation we were told of, a landman concluded, for $4,000, the title was horribly convoluted. For an additional $30,000, the landman would write a determinative legal description.
Another thing to remember, whether you are putting oil and mineral rights into a living trust or administering a probate estate, is that there are two interests: There is 1) a leasehold interest (often assigned and often, improperly, the only interest taken through Probate); and, 2) the underlying ownership of the real property interest in the oil and mineral rights.
An assignment of the leasehold or royalty interest transfers only that and not ownership of the oil and mineral rights. The same is true of probate of only that interest.
John T. Anderson, Section Chair
LBBA Estate Planning, Probate, & Trust Section
Certified Specialist in Probate, Trust and Estate Planning
By the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization