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Advanced Mineral Conveyancing and Title Issues (Tough Titles Top Twelve)

Brian R. Bjella, Mineral Title Examination (2007)

The purpose of this paper is to review some of the more complicated title issues that you, as a title examiner, will likely come across at some point in your career. The goal is to give you a general overview of these issues and some legal authority to research further. There will be many more complicated title issues that you will come across in your career; but the following are, in my experience, advanced title issues that tend to reoccur. In analyzing each topic, I have identified what I perceive to be the general rule in most states in the western United States. However, I caution that when you come across one of these title issues in your practice, you must ascertain the law in the state in which you are working, as it could vary from the general rule. So now, onto Tough Titles Top Twelve.

I. Issue: Ownership of Minerals Under Adjoining Lakes and Rivers.

Analysis: On occasion lands being examined contain water bodies such as lakes or rivers. A clue to the title examiner is a legal description by lots, which do not appear to be the more typical correction line lots found in irregular sections of lands. The issue is who owns the mineral rights under such lakes or rivers. The results may surprise you, as it is not uncommon to discover that the state owns minerals under lakes or rivers. Generally, ownership of a riverbed or lakebed is determined based upon w