Practice Areas-Free Initial Appointment


  • State and Local Government Jurisdiction of Land under Water Bodies
  • Water and Land Boundaries and Judicial Civil Rights Immunity
  • Federal Civil Rights Actions vs. Local Government Officials regarding Water Bodies
  • Validity of Local Government Water Body Ordinances
  • Jurisdiction of Federal and State Courts of Boundary and Riparian Matters
  • Congressional Acts regarding Water Boundaries
  • Original Federal Government Plats and Patents
  • Riparian Boundary Law
  • Land and Bottomland Titles/Easements
  • Navigability of Michigan Waters
  • Public and Private Road, Street and Alley Access to Water Bodies
  • Subdivision Roads, Streets, Alleys, Ways and Parks
  • Funnel Development and Back Lot Titles, Easements and Rights
  • Dock and Mooring Issues
  • Cottage Usage Agreements
  • Seawalls and Related Issues
  • Site Condominium Development and Issues


  • Property Boundary Lines and Descriptions
  • Illegal Creation of Water Bodies by Michigan Legislature
  • Water Properties and Title Insurance Coverage
  • Lake and Upland Liability and Insurance Issues
  • Cottage Usage Agreements
  • Highway Road and Street Issues

If you need assistance in providing answers to all lake creation matters, Contact us now.

Property by a lake

Federal Government Created Titles of Area Waters

MICHIGAN CASE LAW OR LEGISLATION DOES NOT DETERMINE WHETHER A WATER BODY IS RIPARIAN. The Government Land Office of the Department of Treasury (later Interior) legally created the lands and waters of Michigan and 30 other states nearly 2 centuries ago pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes enacted by Congress for the survey and sales of nearly 2 billion acres of public lands owned by it. These statutory provisions mandate that what boundaries were created by survey and sale by the federal government are forever unchangeable.

There is no constitutional or statutory authority to alter any original boundaries, whether they be section or sub-section lines or water bodies, because they are declared by Congress in the Land Acts to be forever unchangeable. Thus, no action by the courts, state legislatures, surveyors or property owners can ever change what are the lakes, rivers and lands of Michigan. In regard to what are water bodies and what are lands, these questions were answered forever two centuries ago by the federal government.

The perception by the public that state government has jurisdiction to interfere with these federal creations is incorrect, unconstitutional, a violation of due process, equal protection and federal statutes. If you want to know more, contact Lake Property Law now.

Ownership of Water Bodies Not for Judges

The federal government created all legal subdivision boundaries of lands west of the original colonies pursuant to exclusive powers contained in the Property and Supremacy Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the various Land Acts enacted by Congress. Those statutes clearly mandated that these surveyed lands and boundaries are forever unchangeable. Thus, a water body of any type had to be surveyed (meandered) only by the Department of Interior to form a boundary of land adjacent to it and to give a party riparian rights. All boundaries are unchangeable.

We are experienced at reviewing plats, patents and the original survey documents of the federal government. Thus, we determine types of boundaries, titles and rights (including riparian waters) that apply to any land and waters of Michigan. It is much less expensive and time consuming than filing suit and spending years in court, paying attorney fees and seeking a decision of a court concerning those same issues. The law is also very clear that no judge has jurisdiction to determine what is a riparian water body. If a court makes such a determination when it lacks jurisdiction, it violates the civil rights of those affected by it.

It is an absolute necessity for a buyer, seller or owner of property which is adjacent to any water to understand titles and rights to upland and bottomland. Call or email for an appointment. You’ll see how quick and inexpensive it is to learn about the ownership and rights in the water body you are interested in buying, currently own, or if you are developing a cottage succession plan. Contact us

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

Buying Water Property-Free Initial Appointment

How can anyone be so foolish to invest in property adjacent to a body of water by paying thousands or millions of dollars without having any assurance that there is title and/or other rights in the bottomland of the water body? In fact, there are very many properties in Michigan with asking prices in that range which have no rights or title in the bottomland.

Get advice from someone who understands federal and Michigan law regarding water body ownership prior to making important buy/sell decisions. While it may be a dream to have an opportunity to buy that special parcel and/or a cottage, it pays to understand all aspects of title and rights involved in the purchase.

For answers to all of your water boundary and bottomland title questions, Contact Lake Property Law, PLC.

Selling Water Property-Free Initial Consultation

Don’t do it! The risks of selling land adjacent to or under waters in this state and especially in Southeast Michigan are numerous. You may believe you have title or rights to the waters because you or the family have owned and used a parcel and adjacent bottomland for nearly a century but, in fact, you probably have none.

So how do you market such property? To avoid fraud, how do you advise your realtor who may have sold hundreds of similar lots but never had a clue that there were title and use problems? How much information should or can be disclosed? Is your lot in a subdivision? What if there is a traverse line in your subdivision plat which conveys title to the buyer of bottomland beyond the subdivision borders when you actually have no such title to sell? When was the subdivision created? Have you been trespassing over bottomland property of others, and for how long and in what manner? Was the bottomland in front of the upland parcel patented by the federal government? What, exactly, must you do to avoid litigation after the sale if complete?

The questions are always numerous but the answers are often complex.

You need assistance in buying lake, river and stream bottomlands and protecting your title interests, contact Lake Property Law, PLC.

Cottage Succession Plans-What Really is Being Saved

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

It is mandatory that an experienced subdivision boundary attorney that knows title, boundaries and rights, be consulted when putting together a cottage succession plan. It is an absolute to be able to differentiate between a riparian body of water and a parcel of land that is water-covered but owned in fee simple. 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 the most important element of the plan. If descriptions, titles and use rights are not detailed properly, the entire plan fails.

Use of Inland Lakes by the Public

Federal Remedies for Wrongful State Action

We, at Lake Property Law, PLC, are keenly aware of the many jurisdictional and substantive wrongs being committed by the judicial, legislative and executive branches of state government relative to water body boundaries, titles and rights of Michigan water bodies. The proper forum to address the majority of these matters set forth herein is at the federal level due to the repeated violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes. Mistaken jurisdiction and refusal to acknowledge federal supremacy through the years continues to cause the fox to remain diligent in guarding the hen house.

As a result, the future of riparian litigation must take place in an atmosphere of fairness and must lack the political influence of the State of Michigan in order to correct the massive corruption of titles and rights that have taken place over the last century. The constitutional and civil rights of Michigan citizens and property owners must be protected and the proper forum for doing so is the federal courts.

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

A Dock at Water’s Edge of Every Subdivision Highway, Road or Alley?

State court decisions have always made it clear that dedications of highways, roads, streets and alleys, etc., for both public and/or private subdivision owners to access riparian water bodies are very much favored. Docks at the end of the public accesses are subject to permitting, size requirements and insurance issues but docks dedicated to private persons appear to be regulated in the same fashion as all other docks in throughout Michigan. There is generally no right to private hoists, mooring or night-time anchoring of a boat or other riparian types of riparian activities at these locations.

For one reason or another, the right to erect docks at these subdivision accesses where land meets water has not been exercised to its full extent over the years. Much litigation over such rights has generally focused on whether there is an access, let alone a companion right to a dock. There are many thousands of subdivisions located adjacent to riparian waters in Michigan and it is apparent that these court decisions in favor of dock creation have been the result of a realization of public and private (back lot) need to access the many state riparian water bodies. It is obvious that due to the many thousands of accesses in the thousands of subdivisions that have never been used, or used without a dock, these rights of access and dockage should result in increased property values of the back lots throughout the state.

Age, use, non-use, possession and other facts could result in a negation of these court-approved, legal rights which involve building docks at the ends of dedicated public or private ways in a subdivision. Thus, do not take physical action to erect a dock or other structure in these public or private ways without contacting Lake Property Law, PLC.