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REAL ESTATE 90: Owners demonstrated possession of disputed property because use had been more significant and continuous for a longer period.

This property dispute involves generally undeveloped land in Lake County. According to the map, the western border for Lots 16 through 20 is a natural creek feature. However, the plat map depicts the creek incorrectly. The map shows the creek in a straight line running diagonally on the western edges of Lots 16 to 20, while the creek actually meanders and winds through those lots.

The current dispute involves the ownership of land located west of Creek and inside the calculated dimensions of the Pine River Hills plat. The B owners believed that their lot extended to the thread of Creek, and as a result, the family made several improvements to the land close to the creek, such as building a cabin across the creek on Lots 19 and 20, bringing in electricity, drilling a well, maintaining trails, and building deer blinds and tree stands. However, the owners of lots within Pine River Hills also believed that their lots extended west of Coe Creek, and they too would utilize the area for hiking, mushroom hunting, fishing, deer hunting and other recreational activities.

Quiet Title / Adverse Possession

F owner eventually obtained a survey of her property, which showed that it extended west of Coe Creek. She filed a complaint for quiet title and injunctive relief against the B owner in relation to the land located west of Creek. In response, the B owners filed a counterclaim, asserting that they were the true owners of the disputed property, either by superior claim of title or by the doctrines of adverse possession and acquiescence.

A party claiming adverse possession must show clear and cogent proof of possession that is actual, continuous, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and uninterrupted for the relevant statutory period. The statutory period is 15 years. When the elements of adverse possession have been met, the law presumes that the true owner, by his acquiescence, has granted the land, or interest to the land, so held adversely.

Bench Trial

The case proceeded to a bench trial concerning the adverse possession and acquiescence claims. The testimony showed that the B owners and their guests used the areas west of the creek on Lots 16, 17, and 18 for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing ever since purchased the property in 1964.

There was testimony presented at trial showing that the B owners used the disputed property with the intention to exclude others. For one, the driveway leading to the cabin was protected by a cable, and the property’s northern and southern borders had fences. There was a bridge crossing Creek when purchased the property, but they removed it. B owner later compared his deed to the deed of the owner of the adjacent property. After that confrontation, he placed no trespassing signs on the south portion of Lot 16. He also stated that he went and spoke to the previous owner of Lot 18 regarding his ownership of the land leading up to the creek.


After three days of testimony, the trial court issued a written opinion, concluding that the B owners were the legal owners of the disputed property pursuant to either adverse possession or acquiescence.

Although the neighboring landowners testified that they also made similar recreational use of the land west of Creek, the trial court concluded that the B owners use had been more significant and continuous for a longer period.

Assistance with Real Estate Litigation

If you are facing a boundary dispute or neighbor dispute, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney. We understand that litigation can be costly and time-consuming. We are focused on helping our clients resolve disputes in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible, consistent with their objectives.

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MICHIGAN WILLS/TRUSTS 33: Trustees required to provide notice informing recipients that they may challenge the validity of a trust and the period allowed for bringing such a challenge.

The notice sent clearly advised her that if she wanted to contest the validity of the Trust in a judicial proceeding, the law required her to do so within six months from the date of the letter. Nothing in the statute requires a trustee to inform the recipients of the specific legal consequences of not acting during the time allowed.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 97: The court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff.

The trial court found that plaintiff sustained her burden of establishing that a constructive trust was necessary to prevent defendant from being unjustly enriched. Accordingly, the court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff and ordered defendant to convey his interest in the property to plaintiff.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

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