Use of Inland Lakes by the Public

Bottomland Rights Expert

See Blog: Recognizing Riparian Title

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Water Body Boundaries and Title Analyst

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small pond in a yard or field, a drainage ditch, stream, rivulet, large or small river, lake or canal. I know whether a water body is subject to riparian rights and whether the public has any rights to them. Don’t waste your time and money in court because these matters were decided two centuries ago in accord with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes, together with the directive that they never change. If you want to know the legal status of a particular water body,

contact Lake Property Law, PLC.

Copper Harbor in Northern Michigan's Upper Peninsula during Summer via Drone

Riparian Bottomlands Survey (Legal Analyst)

I use my 45 years of land and water title experience to conduct analysis of and legally critique riparian rights bottomland surveys of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams performed by land surveyors. While surveyors specialize in measurements by taking into account the physical details of a parcel of land and the waters that lie adjacent to it, it is necessary to scrutinize and compare such work product with correct legal principles applicable to the facts. Courts often accept such surveys as controlling proof in a case even though they are merely an artistic production of a particular surveyor. These surveys should never be assumed to be correct as they are not land surveys where accuracy is mandatory. It appears that they are regularly slanted with the client’s interest in mind.

Nevertheless, legal analyses of bottomland surveys by an attorney who understands bottomland and adjacent land boundaries and titles is an absolute requirement to ensure a fair and correct playing field and conclusion when valuable property rights can be won or lost. Contact Lake Property Law, PLC.

Riparian Mortgage Risk Insurance & Appraisal

Mortgage security for lenders which guards against buyer default on a waterfront property is limited to the fee simple land description of the adjacent parcel unless the parcel was adjacent to a water body that was meandered by the federal government. If meandered (land within it not owned by anyone) by the federal government survey, the security would necessarily include riparian title which, in short, is title in and to that bottomland of a water body. This title is an incidence (or appurtenance) of owning a fee simple parcel of property adjacent to it.

Mortgage investment protection is limited as it is only as good as the backing of mortgage title insurance which usually excepts riparian title from coverage as a matter of course. There is often a mortgage appraisal which lenders can rely on which offers some assurance that the mortgagor actually owns riparian rights. However, if there is no bottomland title owned by the mortgagor to legally allow for a dock, moorings and other riparian rights, investment security is reduced to the mere value of the upland.

Actually, it’s quite routine for an appraiser to simply check the original government plat to determine title which is the whole basis for the appraisal. If the lake is not meandered by that survey and as shown on the government plat, there is no riparian title of the adjacent owner in the bottomland. The only security is the value of the upland. If the mortgagor has no legal rights to the lake, risk is through the roof.

Providing title assistance to buyers, mortgagees and appraisers. Contact us now.

Footbridge over the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A great spot for a picnic.

Bottomland Liability Analyst

County offices properly designate those persons, corporations and governments who really do own property under the waters of about 50% of our water bodies on the tax rolls as owning it. At the same time, however, the state courts wrongfully have ruled that others who own property adjacent to the water body actually own title to the middle. (It seems the attitude is, “Who cares if we tell multiple parties that they own the same piece of property? It’s good for the economy and gives the state more power and control over lands and waters. Who does own it, and how do all of us protect ourselves from liability?

How can insurance agents and underwriters have any confidence in allocating, let alone understanding, associated risk coverage of a parcel of property? Who does have an obligation to insure it and themselves? How can personal injury attorneys be assured that those responsible for injuries are properly named, and vice-versa for those not involved? Who actually does own or have other rights in the bottomland? What kind of insurance is necessary and what are appropriate amounts between homeowners and personal liability policies? Are all parties obligated to spend money as a result of this multiple-titled ruse? If you need assistance in understanding these complicated issues,

Contact: Lake Property Law, PLC.

Federal Law Determined Our Lands and Water Bodies

The U.S. Constitution, Federal Statutes and U.S. Supreme Court Cases determined long ago and for a lengthy period of time which bodies of water constituted our lands, lakes, rivers and streams. Congress created what are our lands and water bodies. In the process, it mandated that those water bodies are forever unchangeable. That is precisely why I differ with those in my profession who cite state law when federal statutes absolutely forbid it. I have spent many years pouring over federal statutes and cases and it is with confidence that I set forth legal doctrine that emanates from the highest authority in our land. Contact us

Cottage Succession Plans and the Importance of Titles

These plans are premised upon correct titles and rights. Titles and rights of uplands and bottomlands of Michigan water bodies are extremely complicated and subject to much misunderstanding of Michigan courts, legislature and professionals. When putting together a cottage succession plan, these ownership and rights matters are of vital importance to the continuation and proper functioning of the cottage for years into the future.

It is mandatory that an experienced subdivision boundary attorney who knows title, boundaries and rights be consulted when putting together a cottage succession plan. It is an absolute necessity to be able to differentiate between a riparian body of water and a parcel of land that is water-covered but owned in the same manner as the cottage. After all, the kids would be devastated if they were saddled with liabilities as a result of parents’ or grandparents’ misunderstanding the legalities of what is owned. Getting the ownership correct is by far the most important element of any plan. If descriptions, titles and use rights are not detailed properly, the entire plan can be a total failure.

Property by a lake

Michigan Tax Commission: Navigable and Non Navigable Waters are Federally Meandered

Michigan Assessors Manual, Volume 3, Michigan Tax Commission, published February 2018, Pages 19-20, correctly maintains the following:

“The General Land Office (G.L.O.) survey township maps continue to be the authority for determining the size, shape and even the existence of each section…..Page 19…. All navigable bodies of water were meandered in the public land survey system as well as many important streams and lakes not regarded to be navigable.” Page 20…...***

***U.S. Department of the Interior. 2009. Manual of Surveying Instructions: For the Survey of the Public Lands of the United States. Bureau of Land Management. Denver, CO: Government Printing Office.

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