Bakken Mineral Rights Case to the State Supreme Court

by Kenneth E. DuBose on December 5, 2011

Montana mineral buyers might be on the hook for knowing whether or not a mineral owner has the right to sell. Northland Royalty Corp bought minerals from a gentleman in the 1990, but a will surfaced approximately a decade later that changes the understood ownership of the minerals.

Without the Bakken Shale, this might not have ever been an issue, but with oil production rising in the area there is no arguing there might be significant value tied to the minerals.

The lower court determined it was Northland’s liability to know a will might have been prepared. We’ll have to wait and see what the state supreme court determines before knowing how this ends. This is a very interesting string of events that further supports the need for everyone to make sure their estate is order before passing on. Otherwise, your kids or grandkids might be in a court battle 20 years later.

In the District Court’s order in favor of the defendants, the Court stated that, “Northland Royalty Corporation…should have had constructive notice of something amiss…” and “Mr. Keller is a landman and should know that when estates are open or when people die they don’t always die without a Will….” further language in the lower court decision, according to Northland, appeared put a burden on the company to determine the individual’s right to sell to them and they say that is not supported in statute. Northland is asking the state supreme court to reverse the lower court order.

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