Written by Travis Booher

Disclaimer: Travis should not be blamed for the lame football analogies in this post. 

All too often landmen see the same old comments and the same old requirements in title opinions. I was recently asked for ways to decrease the number of comments and requirements and hence, the amount of curative work (and costs) relating to title opinions. Here are five thoughts to keep in mind when preparing a runsheet for your title attorney:

1. Be a Visionary: Like our friend Richard Murphy on the right, see the whole field; have an eye on the goal; tell your examiner in clear terms what you would like to see in your completed title opinion. For instance, if you are only concerned about the leasehold ownership for the Smackover Formation, then your cover letter should say that. Don’t be willing to pay for something you don’t need.

2. Close the Gap: You never want your linebacker to give up a running lane wide enough for your little sister to navigate. Likewise, it is unsettling to your title examiner when your runsheet reflects a significant gap in time, or a gap between record title owners. That uneasy feeling is further heightened when the landman does not acknowledge or recognize the gap. If a gap exists, acknowledge it in the runsheet.

3. Death is Complicated: Have a game plan.  Probates in Texas, for the most part, have the same sequence and similar, if not the same, types of documents. When an examiner is reviewing a probate, he will always want to review at least three documents: the Application to Probate Will, the Last Will and Testament, and the Order Admitting Will to Probate.  

4. Divorces Are Worse:  Divorcing spouses often specify in detail how to split up the Colt McCoy-autographed football and other sports memorabilia, but spend scant time describing the mineral interests, even if that’s where the money is.  Often they are not represented by oil and gas lawyers.  As a result, divorce documents occasionally fail to clearly outline or describe the ownership of  minerals acquired as community property. Try to include as many of the relevant divorce proceeding documents as possible, but always include the Divorce Decree and property settlement agreements.

5. Exhibits = Hours = Legal Fees: Talk about running out the clock!  Often the examiner may be required to review a conveyance with a very long exhibit (Example: assignment of 1,000 oil and gas leases). The runsheet should note which exhibit page lists the information the examiner needs for the opinion. Our educated guess is that you don’t want to pay for me to review a 400 page exhibit looking for one lease.

 We will have more on this subject in a later post.  Next time we might even feature an Aggie running back.