Bulletin: CO000050

Date:
December 13, 2004
To:
All Issuing Offices in Colorado
RE:
Severance of the Mineral Estate on Private Land

Dear Associates:

This Bulletin clarifies the procedures in place for issuance of title insurance where the mineral estate has been severed from the land.

The term 'mineral estate' refers to any subsurface rights or the rights to the natural resources lying below the earth's surface.  A mineral estate may be held by an individual, corporation, railroad, government entity, etc.

Generally, any transfer of land may be accomplished with or without a transfer of the mineral estate.  A conveyance without an exception or reservation of the minerals carries with it the minerals and the surface estate. Severance of the mineral estate from the surface estate occurs by conveyance of minerals separate from the surface estate or by conveyance of surface estate subject to a reservation of minerals.   For example, a conveyance of fee simple with a reservation or exception for 100% of the minerals conveys a surface estate only.  Any mineral reservation severs that portion of the minerals from the surface estate.   All types of minerals may be severed including ores, sand, gravel, gold, etc.

COMPANY POLICY: For agents in Colorado counties where the Company currently requires title examiners to except the minerals out of Schedule A of the Commitment, the process for insuring title to real property where there has been a severance of the mineral estate varies on a case-by-case basis.  Unless there are specific concerns about the land being insured, the Company no longer requires that title examiners except out the mineral estate in Schedule A or Schedule B of the Commitment and Policy.    Instead, any grant or reservation of a mineral right or interest found in the chain of title must be shown as a specific exception in Schedule B.  The examination shall comply with current Company underwriting guidelines regarding title examination.  However, when insuring a metes and bound description outside the limits of a city or town without zoning regulations against mineral development, and where mineral reservations are found upon examination of title, the examiner shall either (1) insure 'surface estate only' or (2) examining the chain of title back to the land patent and take exception to every mineral reservation in Schedule B.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE ISSUES RAISED. BY THIS BULLETIN, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL UNDERWRITING PERSONNEL.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.