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Policies

7. Means Test

7.6. Assets test

7.6.1 Assets test for short matters

The following table sets out the assets test that is applied in short matters. Short matters are:

  • Local Court criminal matters except:
    • committals
    • matters where a plea of not guilty has been entered, and
    • matters requiring expenditure
  • Supreme Court bail applications
  • Prisoners Legal Service matters.

Applicant's net assessable assets

Do they satisfy the assets test?

  • $1500 or less
  • Over $1500

Yes

Only in exceptional circumstances

(see 7.10.2 – 7.10.3)

NOTE: All applicants must also satisfy the income test (see 7.5) and the ability to pay legal costs test (see 7.7).


7.6.2 Assets test in all other matters

The following table sets out the assets test applied in all other matters.

Applicant's net assessable assets

Do they satisfy the assets test?

  • $100 or less
  • Over $100

Yes

The applicant must pay an assets contribution (see 7.8.4). If the assets contribution together with the income contribution (see 7.8.3) exceeds the allowable amount for the type of matter, the applicant does not satisfy the Means Test.

NOTE: All applicants must also satisfy the income test (see 7.5) and the ability to pay legal costs test (see 7.7).

Note: where an applicant for legal aid is eligible for aid under the Means Test, and they own real property and the estimated costs of proceedings is over $2,000, they will be required as a condition of the grant to execute a charge over the property to secure the total costs and expense of providing the legal service unless the grant is for an exempted matter.


7.6.3 How to calculate net assessable assets

The assets test is applied to the applicant's net assessable assets.

Net assessable assets are:


7.6.4 Gross assessable assets - what is included?

All assets are included in gross assessable assets, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • land
  • cash
  • shares
  • debentures
  • other investments.


7.6.5 Excluded assets

The following table sets out the assets which are excluded when calculating the net assessable assets. The value of any asset in excess of the maximum allowed value must be included in the applicant's net assessable assets.

Excluded Asset

Maximum allowed value

Household furniture and effects

Reasonable value

Clothing

Reasonable value

Tools of trade

Reasonable value

Lump sum payments

See 7.6.6(b) for information about lump sum payments which are excluded from the assets test

Home equity

$521,100

Note: Home equity includes the applicant's equity in their principal home. A principal home may include a house, flat, caravan, boat or any other abode occupied by the applicant as his or her place of residence.

Note: for the purposes of an applicant in a Commonwealth family law matter, the maximum allowable equity is $260,550 where the equity is in the former matrimonial or de facto home and there has not yet been a property settlement.

Motor vehicle equity

$20,000

Note: Motor vehicle equity includes equity in a motor vehicle, or up to two motor vehicles belonging to a household of two or more persons whose combined means are assessable for the purposes of the application.

Farm or business equity

$287,750

Note: If the farm is the principal home of the applicant, the value of the house and surrounding five (5) acres of land is excluded and is considered under "home equity".

Newborn Upfront Payment

Newborn Supplement

Amount received

NDIS amount

Amount received under the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Allowable assets

Single applicant - $2,800

Applicant with dependents

or financially associated person - $4,200

7.6.6 Information about lump sum payments excluded from the assets test

Compensation payments

Lump sum compensation payments in hand are excluded from the applicant's net assessable assets if:

  • neither the applicant nor their dependants is working, and
  • the compensation recipient is currently precluded under section 17 and Part 3.14 of the Social Security Act 1991 from receiving a pension or benefit.

Child support or maintenance payments

Lump sum child or spouse maintenance in hand are excluded from the applicant's net assessable assets where the applicant is receiving a pension or benefit at a reduced rate under the maintenance income test.

Other lump sum payments

Other lump sum payments (e.g. superannuation paid on retrenchment or resignation) are excluded from the applicant's net assessable assets if:

  • they are treated as income by Centrelink, and
  • they preclude the applicant from receiving benefits.

Lump sum payments treated as income

In these cases the applicant will be deemed to have a gross weekly income equal to average weekly earnings (AWE) during the Centrelink preclusion period. If the sum does not prevent the applicant from drawing a Centrelink benefit it is included in the applicant's net assessable assets.



Date Last Published: 23/12/2016
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