Do You Need a Conveyancer When Buying a New Home?

A conveyancer is like a professional assistant who helps and guides you through the real estate conveyancing process. You are typically not legally required to use the services of a conveyancer when buying a house, but they can offer you many benefits and protections when you are ready to make an offer on a property. Note when it can be good to hire a conveyancer to help you through the home buying process and why their services might be needed.

1. Searches

A conveyancer will usually have more experience than you in doing searches for the home, and this can wind up protecting you in the long run. For example, do you think the home might be in a flood zone, or is a potential homeowner’s insurance carrier asking you to get flood insurance on the home? A conveyancer can check the flood risk or do an environmental search to note if your home is truly in a flood zone or not. If there are any potential risks for the home or any potential changes to the neighboring area, you might hire a conveyancer to do the proper searches for you.

2. Surveys and inspections 

Typically, a mortgage valuation survey is done, so that your mortgage lender knows the home is sufficient security for the mortgage loan. However, do you know what other surveys or inspections might be done to the home and property in order to protect your investment? This can mean an air quality survey to check for signs of radon, mold, or asbestos. A pest inspection can tell you if the home is infested with termites or rodents. A conveyancer will be familiar with the types of surveys and inspections that are available and which might be recommended for the area in which your new home is located, so you can know of any potential problems with the home.

3. Exchanging contracts

At the end of the conveyancing process, there is an exchange of contracts. If you’re not sure what this entails, you would do well to have a conveyancer handle this for you; there is an agreed upon day when contracts are exchanged after having been read over a recorded phone call, and a conveyancer will be familiar with that process. You would typically also have a particular timeframe for the seller to vacate the property if they have not already done so. A conveyancer will understand the details of this final, but important part of the conveyancing process, so rather than try to handle this exchange on your own, it can be best to have them manage this step for you.

For more information, contact a local conveyancing firm. 

Grant Of Representation – Do You Need One?

When a loved-one dies, you may find yourself having to deal with matters pertaining to their estate, and this can be rather daunting if you’re not familiar with legal terminology.  For example, do you know if you will need a grant of representation in order to obtain probate?  Read on to find out more.

Grant of representation

A grant of representation is a legal document that the court provides to a deceased’s estate administrators.  The grant of representation effectively gives that person the authority they need to in order to deal with the deceased person’s affairs. There are three different types of grants that are used under different circumstances:

Grant of probate:  A grant of probate is applicable in cases where the deceased has left a will.  The executor of that will is the person who is applying for the grant of probate.

Grant of letters of administration:  a grant of letters of administration is applicable in cases where the deceased has left a will, but where a person who is not the named executor is applying for the grant.  This might apply in cases where the executor has died before the deceased had chance to update their will or where the named executor is no longer mentally fit.

A grant of letters of administration on intestacy:  If the deceased did not make a valid will, you will need to apply for a grant of letters of administration on intestacy, which will provide you with the authority to apply for probate. 

Do you need a grant of representation?

There are a number of different circumstances when a person will need to apply to the courts for a grant of representation.  These circumstances might include the following:

  • if the deceased person owned property  
  • if the deceased owned shares  
  • if the deceased had a bank account with a balance exceeding an amount determined by the bank or financial institution  
  • if an accommodation bond was kept on the deceased’s behalf by a residential or nursing home

In general, once you have notified the relevant financial institutions and organisations with whom the deceased held shares that they have died, these third parties will notify you if they require a grant of representation.  Your estates planning solicitor will also be able to advise you on the documentation you will need in order to apply for probate.

In conclusion

The legal process around the administration of a deceased person’s estate can be complicated and confusing.  Always use the services of an experienced solicitor to help you through the probate process.

Do You Have Rights to Criminal Compensation in Australia?

Criminal compensation is a program set up in Australia that is meant to compensate victims of crimes for their injuries, property loss, and the like. If you’ve been the victim of a crime and are interested in seeking compensation, you would do well to discuss your rights and options with a lawyer, as they can advise you of how to file and if you personally are eligible. In the meantime, note a few factors about this program so you can have a better understanding of how it works and if it may apply in your case.

1. What if property loss wasn’t so catastrophic?

It’s obvious you should be compensated if you had jewelry, expensive electronics, or your car stolen and were not compensated through your insurance company for these losses. However, criminal compensation in Australia can also cover incidental expenses and losses, such as clothing that was damaged during an attack or other such smaller items that were stolen. Don’t assume that your losses are not catastrophic enough to make you eligible for compensation, but instead, make a list of your losses and bring this with you when you meet with a lawyer.

2. What about medical expenses?

Your insurance company may pay for some medical expenses, but they can also be covered under the criminal compensation program. Note too that this includes psychological treatment that is needed because of being the victim of a crime. If you are seeking help for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other such mental and emotional issues because of being victimized, this too is something to discuss with your lawyer to see if any costs not covered by your insurance may be covered under the program.

3. What about funeral costs?

If a member of your family was killed during the course of a criminal act, you may be entitled to compensation for funeral costs as a result. A lawyer can advise you on your rights in this type of case, if there are limits to these costs, and so on.

4. Who pays?

The criminal compensation program in Australia is paid out by the government, and the state will then try to collect or recoup these costs from the offender. The victim himself or herself is not involved in these collection processes, so he or she would not need to again face their assailant or anyone else in order to recoup these expenses.

Do You Need a Business Lawyer?

Not all business transactions necessarily need a lawyer to be completed properly and legally and to your best interests. A person can usually start a small business by simply filing paperwork for a business name and advertising for customers, without meeting with a lawyer. However, not all business transactions are this simple and not all should be done on your own, without legal counsel. Note a few times when you should consult with a business lawyer in order to best protect your business interests.

1. When you want to go public

Going public by offering shares of stock in your company is not as simple as you might assume; you have responsibilities to shareholders once the process is completed and want to ensure you understand what is meant by having a business that is now owned by shareholders. There are also legal terms and paperwork that must be understood in order for the process to be handled properly; otherwise, those who buy shares of your company may want to file a suit against you sometime down the road. A business lawyer can ensure you understand all these things so that your business goes public legally and that it works in your best interests as well.

2. When you want to make special allocations or contribute property to the business

Making special allocations of your profits and losses or contributing property to the business for tax purposes can be tricky, as you need to understand how to state this on your tax return for maximum benefit. Making special allocations means splitting profits between partners in a way that doesn’t line up with the percentage of the business they own, and contributing property may be seen as income for the business unless its depreciated properly. These situations require a business lawyer to walk you through the steps to ensure you protect your profits and handle your tax returns properly.

3. When environmental issues arise

When you own a building or any type of property and an environmental issue arises, you want to have this handled by a lawyer. You may be liable for cleanup and for any health expenses faced by employees due to exposure, even if you didn’t cause the contamination. It’s vital that you protect yourself against this liability and understand what is legally required of you when it comes to restoring the environment, and a business lawyer can ensure your rights and interests are best protected overall. 

For more information about working with a business lawyer, contact a company like Anthonys Solicitors.

What To Do When A Neighbourly Dispute Turns Bad

In an ideal world, your neighbours would also be your good friends.  However, this is not always the case, and sometimes what starts out as a minor disagreement can escalate into full-scale war.  Here are some tips on how to handle neighbourly disputes, together with helpful advice on when to contact a solicitor in your area for advice.

What’s the problem?

There are many causes of neighbourly disputes, but the most common include

  • car parking
  • excessive noise (barking dogs, loud music, noisy children)
  • overhanging trees that could cause a nuisance or danger to property or people
  • maintenance of hedges
  • boundary disputes
  • damage to your property or garden caused by children
  • poor maintenance of the neighbouring property such that it ruins the kerb appeal of your own or presents a health hazard

All of the above could be construed as ‘antisocial behaviour’, and legal intervention could therefore be justified if all other action fails to bring about a resolution to the problem.

Formulate a plan of action

1.The first thing that you should do is to approach your neighbour to make a complaint about their behaviour.  If you think it likely that tempers might fray, you could write to them, rather than confront them face-to-face.  

2.If this approach fails to rectify the problem, you could try mediation.  Mediation involves you and your neighbour discussing the problem with an independent third party (the mediator) in order to try to reach an amicable agreement without going to court.  Your local solicitor will have a list of mediators in your area.  

3.If mediation fails and your neighbour is a tenant, it’s a good idea to contact their landlord and explain the problem to them.  Often, landlord intervention will bring about a quick resolution to the dispute, as the tenant may fear eviction if they do not modify their behaviour.  

4.In the event that things become unbearable and you think that a criminal offence has been committed, such as malicious damage to your property or a breach of the peace, you could contact the police.  

5.In cases where you think that your neighbours are in breach of public health laws, you could try approaching your local council’s environmental health officer who will take up the matter and attempt to resolve it on your behalf.  An example of such a case would be a neighbour who habitually leaves rubbish to accumulate in their back garden, attracting rats and other pests, which could present a hygiene risk to you and your family.  

6.The final step is to contact a solicitor in your area.  A solicitor’s letter to your neighbour may be enough to make them realise that your complaint is serious and the next step could be court action against them. Court action against a nuisance neighbour should really be the very last resort.  Unless you are eligible for legal assistance, pursuing someone through the courts is an expensive process.  Remember too that after the dust has settled and judgement has been made, you still have to live next door to your neighbours. 

In conclusion

If you are having problems with your neighbours, follow the course of action set out above, and take the advice of your local solicitor or Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

Follow These Steps When Planning Your Estate

After you pass away, your family will have the responsibility of dealing with your assets and property. If you have not yet come to a decision about where the assets are meant to go, they might have to go through probate. This process of distribution is complicated and can take quite a bit of time. If you begin planning your estate now, you can hopefully prevent probate altogether. Here are some steps to include in planning your estate.

Write Up a Will

One of the first things you will need to do when planning your estate is write up a will. It does not have to be difficult or complex. Simple wills simply name someone as a beneficiary and list assets and property, plus who they should be assigned to after your passing. As long as you include all major assets, there shouldn’t be a probate process after you pass. Just make sure you are specific in your will and that you choose backups. For example, if you are leaving your vacation home to your spouse, but you and your spouse are killed in the same car crash, probate might be needed to deal with the home since there is nobody to give it to. This is why you should have alternative people in the case the first person is not available or isn’t interested in it.

Choose a Health Care Directive

In addition to the regular will and testament, you also need to have a living will written up. This is a will that names someone as your medical power of attorney. If you are still alive, but are unable to make your own health decisions, this person can make them for you. For example, if you have a severe accident that leaves you unconscious or in a coma, you won’t be able to make any decisions. You may also not be able to make decisions if you get Alzheimer’s or dementia, you have a major stroke, or your mental health declines so much that you can no longer make rational decisions. The power of attorney is often a spouse, parent or child, though you can choose anyone.

Give Your Children Extra Protection

While the will is going to include information about your children and what assets go to them, they might be minors when you pass. In this case, they will need an adult who can oversee their assets and make sure they get them when they become an adult. You can make sure this happens by selecting a responsible adult who knows them well and will look after them. Again, it can be a spouse or another close relative, or a family friend you trust completely.

For more information about or help with planning your estate, contact a lawyer.

3 Questions You Should Think About Before Filing For Bankruptcy

You may be considering filing for bankruptcy if you have found yourself unable to pay off your debts. Before you take this step, ask yourself the following questions. The answers that you give to those questions may help you to make an informed decision about the suitability of filing for bankruptcy.

Have You Contracted Debts Recently?

Different jurisdictions have different regulations governing the circumstances under which one may be declared bankrupt. One of those conditions usually looks at how long ago someone incurred a debt. The terms of your bankruptcy order may exclude debts that you contracted within that minimum period before you filed for bankruptcy. Creditors may also argue that you cannot be freed from an obligation to pay them because you obtained that loan when you knew that you were about to file for bankruptcy. You should therefore only file for bankruptcy if you haven’t contracted any new debts within that minimum duration stipulated in the bankruptcy laws of your area.

How Much Do You Owe?

Consider the magnitude of the debts that you have before you file for bankruptcy. This is important for two major reasons. One, bankruptcy has far-reaching consequences, such as affecting your credit rating for several years. In that time, it can be very hard for you to get a loan to buy a home or car. Bankruptcy may even affect your eligibility for some jobs in your jurisdiction. Secondly, it may be hard for you to convince court to grant you a bankruptcy order if the sum of your debts is considered small. Consequently, you should only file for bankruptcy if the sum of the debts from which you seek relief can outweigh the likely long-term effects of being declared bankrupt.

Have You Considered All Your Options?

As already stated above, being declared bankrupt has many long-term effects. You should only file for bankruptcy after exhausting all other options, such as debt consolidation. It may also be possible for you to negotiate for restructuring your individual loans so that you can start repayments after improving your financial means once you get a job (if you had recently lost a job, for example).

As you can see, filing for bankruptcy is a very serious step that you should never take hastily. It is better for you to consult a bankruptcy solicitor so that he or she can assess your situation in relation to the applicable laws in your area. From that analysis, your solicitor will advise you on the best course of action that you can take to obtain relief from your creditors.