For Contracts of Sale entered into after 1 July 2019 (i.e. dated 1 July 2019 and after), new homeowners will pay no stamp duty if:

  • They are over the age of 18;
  • All buyers and their partners have not owned a property in the last 2 years;
  • At least one buyer will reside in the property being purchased for at least 12 months and the period of occupation commences within 12 months of settlement;
  • The total gross income of all buyers and their partners must not be greater than:
  • $160,000 (no dependent children)
  • $163,600 (1 dependent child)
  • $166,600 (2 dependent children)
  • $169,990 (3 dependent children)
  • $173,320 (4 dependent children)
  • $176,650 (5 or more dependent children)
  • All types of properties in the ACT are eligible for this stamp duty exemption if the above criteria is met.
  • The previous First Home Owners Grant is no longer available for transactions entered into from 1 July 2019. If your Contract for Sale is dated before 30 June 2019, please refer to the guideline found at:

https://www.revenue.act.gov.au/home-buyer-assistance/home-buyer-concession-scheme/transactions-entered-into-on-or-before-30-june-2019

In making the visa application process user-friendly, a false sense of security has emerged that it’s easy to apply for Australian visas.  There are certain instances when visas can be straightforward, but every individual’s case is different. With a lack of understanding the layer of laws and policy behind a visa application process, we have witnessed clients bewildered by negative visa outcomes of late.

Australian migration law stems from the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).  The online visa forms that individuals see are the simplified version of these laws.  At a glance, these forms are a series of straightforward questions. What is not told to applicants is that each question on the form is crafted to meet a point of law or government policy, determining your visa eligibility.  Therefore, there are serious ramifications for missing questions or not answering questions correctly.

A good migration lawyer can safeguard you from making these errors. Even if a client feels they have only received one good piece of advice in the process, this alone can save them the anguish of losing thousands in visa application fees (in most cases which are non-refundable).

Example

To give you an example on how questions can be multifaceted, here is a question that’s commonly asked in permanent residence applications:

“Non-migrating members of the family unit

Does the applicant have any members of their family unit not travelling to Australia who are not

Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents?”

Clients would usually answer ‘no’ to this question if they believe they’ve addressed this earlier by naming accompanying family members.  A good migration lawyer would tell you instead that this question is really asking if you have ‘dependant’ family members such as children or step-children remaining in your home country.  Why is this an important question? It’s because if you become a permanent resident, there’s a chance you may eventually bring these children to Australia. Therefore, their health conditions are just as important an issue to address for your application.  If any of these ‘unaccompanying’ children are found to have a serious condition, this compromises your whole permanent residency application, even if the rest of your accompanying family are healthy.

Migration Law is an expertise that’s built over time and an advisory service that keeps in mind how the relevant legislation applies to each client’s situation.  The online form and the Department of Home Affairs’ website is not sufficient to give the full picture. There is quite a great deal of analysis that goes into answering each question on the form and preparing a client’s application to ensure it meets the technical visa requirements.  Having a good migration expert to guide you can make a significant difference to your chances of securing an Australian visa.

Please contact M Legal’s immigration lawyer/agent should you wish to discuss your case further.

Too many people die in Australia each year without having a Will in place. If you want a say in how your personal property and belongings are distributed after you die, engaging a solicitor specialising in Wills, can help you put your Will in place.

  • What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that sets out how you want the things you own to be distributed after you die. Talking about death can be a sombre thing but making a Will is a wise decision to make for anyone over the age of 18 (who has mental capacity and fully able to understand the nature and implications of the document they are signing), regardless of whether they own property or many assets. You may only have sentimental or small valuable belongings but want a say as to who these belongings go to when you are no longer around to express your wishes.  

Making a Will can ensure that you can appoint a person(s) of your choice as executor to carry out your wishes as expressed in the Will. It also allows you to provide for the people you care about, leave particular items to certain people and outline other instructions, for example, arrangements for your funeral.

Your Will should be reviewed and changed whenever your personal circumstances change such as getting married, divorced or having children. Many people are not aware that if they have a Will in place and then get married, that Will is no longer valid and that each party needs to have a new Will prepared.

  • Why do you need one?

If you die without making a Will, your estate (your property and belongings) will be administered by a person appointed as administrator of your estate by the Court. Normally, the person appointed as administrator will be someone that has an interest in the estate. If an administrator is appointed, what happens to your personal assets and belongings, could be different from what you intended.

  • What is a PoA?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf. The Power of Attorney can be a General Power of Attorney which is given for a specific time (for example if you are going overseas) and then ceases to have effect after that period of time. It also ceases to have effect if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. An Enduring Power of Attorney allows the person you appoint an attorney to continue to make decisions on your behalf even after you lose the capacity to make your own decisions.

Anyone over the age of 18 who has mental capacity is able to make a Power of Attorney.

  • Why do you need one?

If you do not have one in place and lose capacity, the job of managing your property and financial matters will be very difficult for your family members and there will be no one with legal authority to make these decisions on your behalf. A family member or someone else close to you may have to apply to the relevant court or tribunal to have a financial manager (someone you may not have chosen) appointed.

It is therefore pertinent that everyone considers have a Power of Attorney in place along with their Will in the case of unexpected occurrences such as sickness, accidents or absences or to cover planned absences.

M Legal can assist you with getting your affairs in order by preparing your Will and Power of Attorney to reflect your exact wishes and leave no room for uncertainty in the event of death, unexpected life occurrences or planned absences.  Please book a consultation with our Will Solicitors today.

Migration is an area of law where you can choose either a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer (both professionals are registered under the Migration Registration Agent Authority) to represent your case. Both professionals will charge fees according to the type of visa being sought and based on the difficulty of the case.

With the Department of Home Affairs’ visa application fees being so expensive, the cost of engaging an immigration expert, understandably, is the primary consideration for most clients.

Price, however, should not be the primary focus in choosing your expert. Australian migration services are a ‘professional service’ and should be seen in this light given the level of work and technical knowledge required in doing an exceptional job.

After 13 years in this industry and seeing serious mistakes being made in migration cases, I have witnessed damaging outcomes as a result of clients running their own visa cases or engaging the cheapest agent or lawyer, to save costs. By the time cases arrive at my desk, sometimes it’s too late to salvage the situation and rescue the client. A sad and unnecessary state of affairs.

My advice when picking your agent or lawyer is that you conduct a thorough research in the expert’s professional background and the migration firm they work for. You should also consider the below factors, to be in the best position to make a well-informed decision.

Key Questions to ask

At a minimum, before you engage an expert you should consider:

1. Registration: Does the agent or lawyer have the appropriate registration or license to practice in the field and give migration advice?

Migration agents and lawyers should be registered under MARA: www.mara.gov.au

2. Years of experience: How many years of experience does the expert and their firm have in the industry? Furthermore, do they have the expertise to run a case similar to yours?

3. Professionalism: How did the expert conduct themselves during the initial consultation and over the phone. Did they explain all the steps in detail so that you were clearer on the process when you finished the consultation? Did the expert answer your questions and listen to your concerns?

4. Price: Did the expert explain the breakdown of the fees?

5. Integrity: No guarantees or false promises should be made by your agent or lawyer. If they have been quick to guarantee you a successful visa outcome without preparing you for the risks, then be cautious about engaging them to run your matter.

M Legal is a Sydney based firm and focuses on providing expert and professional advice in the area of Australian migration and welcomes the opportunity to have an initial consultation to discuss your migration queries with you.