The primary function of all subsurface title opinions is to determine who owns the subsurface rights. A Certified Title Opinion ensures that the energy company is properly acquiring legal title to the oil & gas or mineral interests being conveyed or leases and subsequently ensures that proper payment of rentals on royalties is being delivered.
A Preliminary Title report, although useful, does not certify title to the property, since it may not be able to identify any title defects, such as early minerals severances, mortgages and other liens, or claims arising from other defects.
A Certified Title Opinion has two main purposes: 1) to provide ownership information to energy companies, and 2) to provide protection for the energy company in the event of a loss resulting from title failure. Consequently, energy companies should be assured of the experience, liability and financial responsibility of the attorney issuing the title team. A title opinion may only be rendered by attorneys. The rendering of opinions on the validity of the title by non-attorneys is illegal and considered the unauthorized practice of law.
A Certified Title Opinion starts with an abstract of title. The staff at Penn Suburban Abstract LLC will generate a compilation of all county records affecting a given tract of land, although satisfied mortgages and judgment liens are sometimes not included. The abstract may be organized chronologically or by subject matter which will set for the items in chronological order within such categories as Record Chain of Title for Surface, Record Chain of Title for Coal, Record Chain of Title for Oil and Gas, Adverse Conveyances, Oil and Gas Leases and Agreements, Rights of Way and Easements, and Tax Assessment and Tax Map.
Frequently, curative requirements will be necessary. If so, Zimmaro & Milesky LLC will state the nature and legal effect of a particular defect. Each requirement will also state precisely what action is needed in order to cure the defect. When possible, alternative methods of curing defects will also be stated.