My wife's mother transferred 40 acres to us. The new deed said 35 acres and changed the wording (from the middle of the river) to ( the high water mark). Since the damage was built in 1938 this is not a navigational stream except for fishing boats. She bought the property in 1938 . What I don't understand is;it was navigational at the time of purchase and the deed said to the middle of the river. To change the wording doesn't seem right. Also, the transfer was supposed to be gifted, but they insisted we pay a small amount thus making it a sale on which we paid taxes. W
I recommend for you to contact the title company that conducted the search of title that was relied upon for the most recent conveyance from your wife's mother. The answer to your questions will be found in the historical creation of the title to the bed of the river.
This is a complicated question that will require an expert real property lawyer, but only if you need to pursue it. See this booklet that describes wetlands title in WA, not to answer your question, but to show you that it is way more complicated than you thought:
It is not usual for the next deed to change the legal description. In other words, if the historical chain of title from the State has included the land that is submerged from the high water line to the center (more usually the "thread" of the river), then the next deed should include all that same land. If research confirms that title was owned by her, then I recommend a replacement deed to include all the land she had a basis to claim.
All the above being said, consider if this matters to you. Even if you "own" the land beneath the river, (1) you can't use it, (2) you can't prohibit others from using it, (3) you have no rights to the water in the river, or other aquatic resources. Shorelands may not have any true value to you.
The title company may find that there is no basis in title conveyance history to claim ownership of the land submerged in the river. Changing your wife's mother's deed will have no value if she didn't own the bed of that river.
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