Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Curtis Gant Betts Solicitors have compiled responses to common customer questions such as how we work, how we can help you, industry related information and more.

General FAQ’s.

Being a regional Law firm, our practice areas are diverse and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional services across multiple practise areas to ensure that outcomes for you are both positive and optimal.

Our Areas of Practice are listed on this website.

59 Brook Street, Muswellbrook – we are situated next to the Catholic Church and opposite the Brook Medical Centre.

90A Bettington Street, Merriwa

At Curtis Gant Betts Solicitors we are committed to providing you with the highest quality advice that is tailored to your unique circumstances.

We have a proud tradition having serviced the people and business community of the Upper Hunter for over 100 years.

Whilst our offices are in both Muswellbrook and Merriwa, we now provide services to clients Australia wide.

You can contact our friendly team by telephone on (02) 6543 2433 or by email

Areas of Practice FAQ’s.

Our Lawyers have a wealth of experience assisting clients with all aspects of family law including living and spending of time arrangements for children, property settlements and divorce.

Under the current legislation, couples must be separated for a period of 12 months before they can make an Application for Divorce.

An Application for Divorce can be made by the parties jointly or one party individually.

Unless otherwise advised by the Court, where a joint Application for Divorce is made, it is not necessary for either party to be in attendance at the Divorce Hearing.

If a sole Application for Divorce is made and there are children of the relationship under the age of 18 then it will be necessary for the Applicant to be in attendance at the Court for the Divorce Hearing.

It is a good idea to engage a Solicitor to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in a matter.

Engaging a Solicitor often also assists the matter to run more smoothly and helps you in achieving the best possible outcome for your matter.

Book an appointment with one of our Solicitors to discuss the notion of Parenting Plans and Consent Orders.

If it becomes necessary to do so, our Solicitors can also explain to you the steps involved in seeking Parenting Orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

Before You Start

The first round of decisions you will likely need to make is in regard to finance. Make sure you read everything thoroughly, from the pre-contractual statement which outlines the fees and charges to which you’ll be subject to the actual mortgage contract itself. Remember you are entitled to legal advice and are under no obligation to sign anything on the spot.

Pre-purchase Inspections

Once you have found a property you like, you will need to arrange a pre-purchase building inspection report and perhaps a pest inspection report. These are written reports about the condition of the property and help you find out any potentially costly problems. You may be able to use this information to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price. If you’re not sure who to trust to do this inspection, talk to your Lawyer or Conveyancer. They will be well aware of which inspectors are worth hiring.

Making an Offer

If you’re happy to proceed, you can make an offer. You might be asked to pay a small sum as an initial deposit, but this is fully refundable if you don’t end up signing the contract. It does not mean that the property is yours yet either, as the agent can take other offers.

Signing the Contract

If your offer is accepted then take the contract you’ve been given to your Lawyer/Conveyancer and discuss your situation with them. There may be several things that can be negotiated in your favour, and you need to be absolutely clear on your rights and responsibilities before signing.

When you do sign the contract you will need to pay the 10% deposit, unless your Lawyer/Conveyancer has negotiated a special condition otherwise. This is held with the real estate agent and is released to the seller after the property is settled. If you don’t have 10% available your Lawyer/Conveyancer can advise in regard to getting a deposit guarantee in lieu of the cash.


After the contract has become binding, your Lawyer/Conveyancer has a number of tasks to perform including:

  • Arranging payment of stamp duty
  • Liaising with the lender in regard to the mortgage
  • Checking with various government authorities to see if they have a vested interest in the property
  • Checking to see if there are any outstanding debts to local council
  • Calculating adjustments for council, water and strata rates
  • Making final checks on the title

On settlement day your Lawyer/Conveyancer will attend a meeting that will include the seller’s Lawyer/Conveyancer as well as any lenders involved and the funds will be handed over in exchange for the title and the keys.

It is important that you contact a Solicitor about the prospect of purchasing or selling a property. Property Law and conveyancing is not always a straight forward process and there are often major pitfalls that need to be avoided.

At Curtis Gant Betts we give our clients very careful and specific advice regarding contracts and the conveyancing process this is not a standardised or formulaic approach but a specific and tailored approach depending on a number of factors such as the title of the property in question as well as the nature of the property i.e. whether it is rural land, residential, community title or strata title.

There is also a careful approach that needs to be adopted regarding examination of the contract itself which is a legally binding document when executed which does have long standing legal ramifications for purchasers and vendors. Often these obligations to not merge or cease on completion of the contracts. Seeing a qualified and experienced Solicitor can ensure that the outcome of your property dealings is a good and sure one without problems arising on the process or afterwards.

In relation to purchase transactions at our office we do not take shortcuts with our conducting of searches and enquiries. Statutory searches and enquiries are an important part of the property law and conveyancing process to ensure that good marketable title without affectations or liabilities are being transferred from one party to another. With an experienced property lawyer, you can be sure that there are no hidden surprises insofar as statutory entities are concerned i.e. adverse interests of Transgrid, electricity suppliers, Rail Corporations, other Corporations, Council etc.

These days most conveyancing is conducted electronically and at Curtis Gant Betts Solicitors our Solicitors are members of the major Australian Property Exchange Corporation known as PEXA (Property Exchange Australia).

If you have been injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident or in the workforce then it is important that you contact a Solicitor early in the process to learn of your legal rights, responsibilities as well as the relevant time frames.

There are a number of different classifications that are given to personal injury claims as they fit into differing claim types i.e Workers compensation, claims under general (common) law and Motor Vehicle accidents.

We can help you early in the process by giving you careful tailored advice in relation to your circumstances and assist you in the decision making as to whether one or more avenue of proceedings may be worth pursuing and having you properly assessed by specialist medical and other physicians to ensure that you receive a fair and appropriate outcome that is in your best interests.

If you or somebody you know are charged by Police, apprehended or refused Bail this can be a particularly stressful time. It is important that you contact and experienced lawyer that is familiar with Criminal Law Processes and is able to properly advocate your rights. Mr George Betts of our office has been a successful criminal lawyer and advocate for over 15 years having been involved in matters that have proceeded on indictment in both the District and Supreme Courts.

It is important to note that NSW Police, like other government organisations and companies are required to follow strict and proper procedure in undertaking their roles and ought not fall short of these obligations to you as a citizen.

Quite often we remind our clients that a person is innocent until proven guilty being a fundamental cornerstone of our criminal justice system and until a lay (everyday) person gains insight into the law, the nature and elements of a charge and the circumstances of an incident there can be confusion, uncertainty and mistakes that can occur. Even NSW Police are not immune to making mistakes!

You really ought get in contact with a lawyer such as somebody from our team early in the process as we can offer you very important advice very early in the criminal process that could help in proving our client’s innocence.

Sometimes there can confusion or conjecture about our clients receiving a Police Fact sheet which they might mistakenly believe is a “Deemed Fact Sheet”. This is simply not the case. A Police Fact sheet is nothing more than a summary of what the Police believe the Facts were which, without other corroborating evidence is often completely unreliable and non-provable.

There are many of times that a person’s innocence is demonstrated at a hearing or prior thereto by successfully admitting evidence in a matter that is quite contrary to the Police initial reckoning of Facts. As noted above it is of fundamental importance that you seek the guidance of an experienced criminal lawyer in this regard as early as possible in the process.

A Will is an important Estate Planning document that allows you to control where you would like your worldly possessions to go after you pass away.

A Will sets out who you would like to administer your Will (known as an Executor or Executrix) and how you would like for your assets to be divided following your death.

First and foremost, you should consider where you would like everything that you own including, for example, your house, money in the bank and other possessions to go after you die. You might also like to make a specific gift to a family member or friend. This should be considered when drafting a Will.

You should consider what assets and liabilities are held by you and the complexity of the structures surrounding these assets and liabilities.
If you have children, you might also consider who you wish for your children to live with in the event that both parents pass away before the child or children reach the age of 18.

Did you know that under the current laws in New South Wales pets are treated as property? This means that unless they are dealt with specifically under your Will, they will form part of your residuary estate. When putting together a Will you should consider whether you would like to make special provision for your pets after you die.

When attending your initial appointment it is helpful to know the full names of anyone that you wish to leave a legacy to in your Will including their middle name.

Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint a person or people to make decisions on your behalf in relation to your financial and legal affairs in the instance that you are unable to do so.

It is very important that you carefully consider who you wish to appoint pursuant to this document as the powers conferred are significant.

It is helpful to know the full name and current address of anyone that you choose to appoint as your Attorney so that this information may be provided to the Solicitor at the initial appointment.

The Enduring Guardian is a document in which you a person or people to make decisions on your behalf regarding your living arrangements and medical care in the instance where you are unable to do so.

An Enduring Guardian can make decisions on your behalf such as where you live, what health care you receive and what other kinds of personal services you receive. In addition, the Enduring Guardian can also consent to the carrying out of medical or dental treatment on you.

It is helpful to know the full name and current address of anyone that you choose to appoint as your Enduring Guardian so that this information may be provided to the Solicitor at the initial appointment.

It depends. If you are a beneficiary of the will it is presumed that your benefit will cover your costs. If you’re not a beneficiary then you can apply for commission. This can often be approved with the consent of the other beneficiaries. Alternatively, a claim by an executor and trustee can be approved by the equitable division of the Supreme Court.

Estates vary in complexity and Executor’s duties can be complicated, so it may be a good idea to get advice from a Lawyer. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the Estate, not the Executors personally.

Probate is recognition of the Will’s validity and permission from the Supreme Court for the Executors named in the Will of the deceased to carry out their duties in relation to the Estate. You will likely need a grant of Probate to deal with the assets of an estate, such as selling property and obtaining bank funds.

This situation is referred to as intestacy and the law determines how assets will be shared out after debts have been paid. If you are the next of kin you can apply for Letters of Administration, which will give you authority to finalise the estate.

Just because you have been named an Executor doesn’t mean you have to accept the responsibility. If there is another Executor named, they can take on the whole of the job, or if you are the sole executor you can apply to the court to appoint someone else. You cannot change your mind later though – giving up the responsibility is final. 

At Curtis Gant Betts our Solicitors are very experienced in assisting clients in circumstances where they have been treated unfairly in a Will or left completely out.

Our Lawyers can explain to you the eligibility criteria that you are required to meet in order to contest a Will and walk you through the steps necessary in order to bring a successful claim.

Working with experienced Counsel, our Solicitors regularly assist clients with Estate Claims at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

In some circumstances, our Solicitors may also be able to assist you with Estate Claims outside of New South Wales.

When considering whether to bring a claim against a Deceased person’s Estate, it is very important that you make contact with a Lawyer as soon as practicable following the death of the Testator/ Testatrix as there are strict timeframes that apply in bringing a claim and these timeframes vary according to State.

Our experienced Lawyers can guide you through the processes regarding these matters, which are often inherently complicated. In guiding you in relation to such matters we have the expertise and experience to know what the Court will is likely to take into consideration when there is a need for the Court to intervene in accommodating a person that has been unfairly excluded or ought to have received greater provision from a deceased person’s Will.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange an appointment.

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