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Legal practitioners are lawyers who can:
- handle legal disputes and issue court proceedings
- provide information and legal advice about the sale or purchase of property
- prepare legal documentation for a wide range of property transactions, including transfers, leases and mortgages
- represent either the vendor or the buyer during the settlement process
- provide advice and representation in relation to matters, such as tax, estate planning, wills, deceased estates and family law settlements
- prepare wills and obtain grants of Probate
- establish and vary trusts and superannuation funds.
You are not legally obliged to engage the services of either a lawyer or registered conveyancer but, due to the complex legal nature of the work involved, it is strongly recommended that you do so if you are planning to:
- buy or sell a property
- subdivide land
- register, change or remove an easement
- update details on a certificate of title such as registering a death.
If you intend to sell or subdivide a property yourself, you must:
- prepare all legal documentation
- make sure you fully understand all relevant legislation and regulations that apply
- be aware of the requirements of all other agencies that may need to be involved, for instance, your local council.
What a legal practitioner does
A property lawyer will:
- prepare and clarify legal documents, like the contract of sale, memorandum of transfer
- conduct research about the property and its certificate of title, like checking for easements and the type of title
- represent you in preparing for and during settlement
- place and hold deposit money in a trust account
- calculate the adjustment of rates and taxes when buying or selling a property
- liaise with the vendor or buyer's solicitor or registered conveyancer over settlement arrangements
- contact you to advise when settlement or subdivision is complete
- contact your financial institution, if applicable, regarding how and when the final payments are to be made and received
- submit applications to Revenue SA for any grants you may be eligible for, such as first home owners grant
- negotiate offers on your behalf with a vendor or their agent
- lodge all necessary documents with the relevant agencies.
Finding a legal practitioner
- Ask friends or family for recommendations
- look for advertisements
- ask the Law Society of South Australia for the names of specialist property lawyers
- check the list of legal practitioners on the Law Society of South Australia website. You should consult a lawyer as soon as possible rather than wait until legal documents are ready to be signed or when it is too late to negotiate changes that might better protect your interests.
Never sign a contract without carefully reading it first. Do not sign it if there is something that you don't understand or are unsure of. Ask the lawyer to explain any unclear areas.