Legal Terms and Their Meaning
Title Exam vs. Survey - A title examination is a thorough reading of every document in the chain of title, from the original purchase or grant of land to the present date. This review usually consists of reading hundreds, if not thousands, of title documents and requires a considerable amount of time to complete. A Survey is a physical walking off of the boundaries of a tract of land, creating a map, field notes, and a metes and bounds description of the land being surveyed.
Net Mineral Estate – This term is not commonly used in the oil and gas industry, but was coined by my offices to mean that portion of a tract of land’s mineral estate that is unclaimed or ‘unknown’, meaning the owners of that particular tract are unknown.
Primary Heir – ‘Primary heir’ is a term used only in genealogy. Primary heirs are the oldest living heirs in any given line of descendancy. If a group of heirs are brothers and sisters and their parents are deceased, then they are all primary heirs.
Secondary Heir – ‘Secondary Heir’ is a term used only in genealogy. A secondary heir is the child of a primary heir.
Tertiary Heir – ‘Tertiary Heir’ is a term used only in genealogy. A tertiary Heir is the grandchild of a primary heir.
Adjudicated – When a person has been adjudicated, they have been to court and had their rights decided by a judge. If you have been declared a direct descendant of your land grant ancestor, you are an adjudicated descendant of your land grant ancestor.
Plaintiff or Petitioner – Both terms apply to the individual or individuals who filed a suit. In certain branches of the law, such as declaratory judgment actions, the ones who file the suit are the petitioners. In civil suits, the ones who file the suit are referred to as plaintiffs.
Claimant – This term is used for a person who is processing some kind of claim, such as when you file your claims with the State for your share of the unclaimed mineral proceeds being maintained by the State, you will be the claimant.
Declaratory Judgment – A declaratory judgment is a judgment rendered by a Judge after being satisfied that proof of the subject matter the judgment is being sought for is accurate and valid. Persons whose names are contained in a Declaratory Judgment have had their proof offered and admitted into evidence by the Court.
Ad Litem – An ad litem attorney is an attorney appointed by the Court to represent unknown heirs of a person for whom a probate or other suit has been filed where the names and whereabouts of the defendant(s) is/are unknown.
Patented – In regard to original land grants, the Texas legislature issued patents to the original land grantees, their heirs and assigns in confirmation of the original grantee’s Spanish or Mexican titles.
Conveyed – A term meaning gave, sold, deeded, or otherwise transferred ownership in real property to another.
Probate – a probate cause of action is a suit to administer the orderly settlement of a deceased person’s estate.
Executor – Named in a Will, the executor is the person who will execute all of the provisions of one’s Will, including filing the Will and obtaining Letters Testamentary, which are then used to fulfill the intent set out in the Will.
Executrix – The female version of executor.
Assignment – the legal conveying of one’s interest in real or personal property to another.
Contingency – The reliance on one occurrence happening before another can happen. A contingent fee contract requires one event, such as a recovery, to occur before the contractor can get paid their contingent interest.
Statute of Limitations – Various Statutes of Limitation run against one’s right to file suit or make a claim under different circumstances. There is a 2-year statute of limitations for torts such as personal injury and damages, a 4-year statute of limitations for contracts, and 3, 5, 7, 12 and 25-year statute of limitations that cover adverse possession claims involving real property.
Real Property – Real estate.
Personal Property – Forms of property other than land.
Fiduciary – One who takes on the responsibility of handling the assets of another.
Professional Land Man – One who researches title from the beginning of ownership of that tract of land to the present, generally to determine who the owners of the known and unknown surface and mineral estates.
Surveyor – One who physically walks a tract of land to determine boundaries, corner markers, etc., and who reduces his findings to writing in the form of a map, field notes and metes and bounds description.
Metes and Bounds Description – A property description that includes 4 distinct boundaries, North, South, East and West, and the direction and length of each boundary.
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