Why You Should Get A Legal Health Check – Part 3

Following recent articles posted, and which you can read here, we continue to list some other major areas that a legal health check will cover:

Family and Estate Planning

A legal health check can review a person’s family arrangements and provide advice on child and spousal maintenance and property division if that person is undergoing a separation or divorce. A legal health check can also review a person’s will and advise whether it needs to be updated.


A legal health check can review a business’ current employment agreements with its employees and provide advice on whether the agreements comply with the regulatory requirements. The legal health check can also advise on specific employment issues such as policies and procedures, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, and restraint of trade clauses.


For further information or enquiry on the above, please contact us.

Business as Usual… We are still operating remotely

Nevile & Co is here to help you, your business, and your family, during these unprecedented times. We remain committed to providing a high level of service to you, and all our valued clients.

Victorian Government COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions require us to work remotely.

This means that our office at Level 11, 100 Collins Street will close from Thursday 6 August for 6 weeks.

Rest assured that it is business as usual for us.

Inevitably, there will be additional delays in us receiving documents by mail. Therefore, we ask that you email documents to us. If you are required to send original documents to us, and to avoid any delay in receiving them:

  • For legal matters and our clients, please speak with the responsible lawyer directly for couriered documents.
  • For our creditors, suppliers and all other matters, please notify us on nevileco@nevile.com.au prior to mailing the documents so we can arrange alternative solutions.

Nevile & Co also handles large volume of property settlements, and we wish to take this opportunity to assure you that we have put in place processes, and procedures to ensure that these settlements take place seamlessly.

At Nevile & Co, we pride ourselves on personal touch. As much as we would like to meet our clients in person with a smile, we will now have to conduct meetings, and consultations via video conferencing. We have deployed technology tools to enable us to maintain that personal touch with you. We also remain readily accessible via email, and telephone. We promise to respond promptly in all forms of communication.

We stick to our service level promise.

It’s our commitment to you, and it’s a reminder for us.

We will continue to provide legal solutions at that service level, and with our best possible expertise, so please reach out to us for any assistance.

In the interim, we encourage you to use our Free Legal Health Check so we can better prepare you for what’s to come.

Keep well, stay safe and let’s stay connected.


From all of us at Nevile & Co Lawyers.



What there is to know about Power of Attorney

We often hear stories about people faced with moral or religious dilemmas about turning off life support to allow someone they love to die with dignity. Happily, most of us are going to grow to an even older age than previous generations, but delayed death brings with it a whole host of issues relating to both our financial and medical wellbeing.

Situations arise in our daily lives where the ability to allow someone else to make decisions on our behalf is convenient and makes good sense. It is a good idea to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of delegating Powers of Attorney.

Powers of Attorney allow people of your choice to make decisions on your behalf, and hopefully, in your best interests. Their decisions are often subject to conditions specified by you and by legislation. It is probably stating the obvious to suggest that you should think carefully about who you wish to entrust with your life and/or financial well-being.

There are other situations where you may wish for someone to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer have the mental capacity to do so. In these circumstances, it is generally more appropriate to give specific Powers of Attorney which are called Enduring Powers of Attorney. These Powers of Attorney continue regardless of mental incapacity, which would ordinarily terminate a Power of Attorney. I strongly recommend you include instructions to make these Enduring Powers of Attorney when you are making or reviewing your Wills.

The form in which these Powers are created and witnessed is quite specific and must be followed strictly in order for the Powers to be valid. The law also imposes clear responsibilities and obligations on the person you appoint, ensuring that they act honestly and in your best interests. There is also reasonably easy and inexpensive access to the judicial system or VCAT for anyone who believes an attorney is not acting properly in the exercise of their powers.

Finally, you may be interested to know that after granting any or all of these powers to someone, you may change your mind and revoke them while you have mental/legal capacity. If you are wanting to go down this track, I recommend you have both the Powers of Attorney and any Deed of Revocation prepared by a lawyer. There is an old maxim which applies equally to lawyers and non-lawyers alike; “he who acts for himself has a fool for a client”.


If you would like to know more about Powers of Attorney, contact us now on 9664 4700 or email Sarah at sarah.slattery@nevile.com.au for further information.

How to avoid STDs or Sexually Transmitted Debt!

For those who have recently exited or been ejected from a relationship (the term depends entirely on which party you are having the discussion with), there is often increased activity with multiple partners, which brings increased risks in many aspects.

Absolute protection from risk may be achieved rather drearily by complete abstinence. It is often said you will live longer this way…I suspect it will just seem a lot longer. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, let me make it quite clear I am talking about Sexually Transmitted Debt. In this article, I want to look at how it occurs, and how you might best protect yourself from it.

STD’s occur as a result of joint activity -that is in the financial arena-. It may arise, for example, from a joint-borrowings and more insidiously, from simply signing a personal guarantee.

There is a favourite legal maxim: “A guarantor is a fool with a pen”. This should become your mantra, and chanted over and over again, in lieu of the more usually accepted – Om! This earnest recitation may have the additional benefit of transporting you more quickly into the nirvana of being debt free, rather than simply, a state of mind. Then again, I understand that one of the principle tenets of Buddhism is suffering!

Let me firstly make a few comments about the principle of joint- borrowings. If you agree to borrow say $300,000 by way of a mortgage with one or more other people, that is jointly, or to take some other form of credit in more than one name, then almost certainly your liability will be considered to be both joint and several. That is, each person will actually be liable for the whole amount. In real life terms, if your partner skips town, goes bankrupt, or is unable to pay for a whole host of reasons, you are immediately liable for the whole debt….not just your half.

If you find that this situation is not of immediate appeal, you can of course either find a suitable new partner, which is often not as easy as it sounds. It must be that white horses are in short supply! Alternatively, adopt a new strategy to borrowings. I might add one which is unlikely to find immediate appeal to the banking institutions, who as you may have noticed, are in present times, not exactly struggling with their profits. The solution and best path to protection, is to leave out the joint bit. That is, each of you borrow in your own name i.e., severally but not jointly. This is not always easy to achieve, and is an area where I strongly recommend you ought to seek expert advice, which for obvious reasons, should probably not be from your friendly banker.

How to stablilise your wealth


Very few people find accumulating wealth an easy task, and it comes as no surprise that most of us wish to preserve it as best we can.

In this article, I would like to raise a number of issues which may assist in the protection of your wealth, and some tips on how you might minimise the risk of its loss or failing! That’s just scaring the living daylights out of you, with some observations on how relationship breakdowns can contribute to a potential loss of your wealth.

Like most people who have reached middle age or more, I can claim some experience, although, I would hesitate to claim any expertise in relationships. I must emphasise that I do not practice as a family lawyer, and therefore, when it comes to legal issues arising from a relationship or matrimonial breakdown, expert advice ought to be sought in this area. If you need assistance with a referral to a pragmatic proponent of the art, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What I can say is that the Family Law Court appears to have exceedingly wide powers to order what, in its opinion (which may not coincide with yours), is a fair and equitable distribution of family wealth based upon the needs, and to a lesser extent the contribution, of the parties to that relationship. Those powers range across asset protection structures including superannuation, trusts, companies, joint ventures and other structures, which were previously used with varying degrees of success, to hide or protect assets from the other spouse or partner.

I think you can safely assume these days that, if the relationship breaks down, you can generally look forward to a division, and thereby, reduction in your current joint assets. In these circumstances, the risk and loss minimisation is very much in your hands. We have all heard the words “I can’t afford to get divorced”. As a result, many relationships continue on the basis that Tina Turner immortalised in that very powerful song “What’s love got to do etc.” when the hip pocket is at significant risk.

The reality is, in many cases I’ve seen over the years, that there are clients who are either happily married, happily single or unhappily surviving in both positions, who have accumulated considerable material wealth and assets through skill, hard work and a modicum of good luck or even by marriage, although not necessarily in that order. Frequently, they then fail to take even basic precautions regarding the protection of those assets and often deplete their wealth at a much faster rate than its accumulation.

Let me provide some food for thought, by outlining a number of examples which may resonate with you. Speaking from a male perspective, I have seen sensible professional and businesspeople exit a relationship, only to have their heads very quickly turned by younger, and firmer flesh. It is not uncommon to see large amounts of money and gifts lavished on the new trophy partner. In many cases, she or he seems to posses an admirable capacity to assist in the rapid diminution of wealth, previously so painstakingly accumulated. These events are frequently justified on the basis of a new-found love, lust or a combination of both and indeed, no expense ought to be spared in the successful pursuit of either or both. It occurs to me somewhat cynically perhaps, that attraction does seem to increase proportionately with the presence of a large bank balance, although not always. It does give credence to the old saying “there is no fool like an old fool” and it follows that “a fool and his money are easily parted”. For his read or her as well.

In the interest of a balanced view (which most of us generally aren’t), I should add, I have seen a number of women who have recently exited a relationship (although this normally does not happen as quickly as men), become infatuated with the next partner who unlike their previous partner, pays them a great deal of attention. While they bask in the glow of a new-found self-esteem and confidence (or is it a fake tan), the warning signs frequently fly out the window. They all too quickly place their trust in what sometimes turns out to be a very undeserving object of their attention. Worse, they provide personal guarantees, and commit to financial arrangements, hopefully investing in a wonderful new life together.

Is there a need for a Will?


If you are convinced that you are not going to die, or you don’t intend to die in the foreseeable future, then read no further.

If, on the other hand, you have accepted your mortality, and know it is only a question of when, not if, you will pass on to another, hopefully better place, I would like to acquaint you with a few issues relating to the need for a Will.

Wills are not only for those in fear of an imminent demise or those in wedded bliss – or otherwise. They are equally important for singles, and particularly important for those who have just exited a relationship, or are about to contemplate a new relationship, or even serial relationships.

Some time ago in The Weekend Australia Magazine, the journalist Victoria Laurie wrote an excellent article titled ‘Estate of Play’. In it she suggests that almost half of the eligible adults will fail to make a Will, or do not possess a current Will. She also mentions, tongue in cheek but nevertheless a sound piece of advice: “If you have led a complicated life, simplify it with your death or a Will”. Many people are aware that an existing Will becomes void on marriage. However, few are aware that a Will made in marriage is not automatically revoked on separation or divorce. As you can imagine, an untimely death, which incidentally most deaths are in one way or another, can have unforeseen, unintended, far-reaching and, in many cases, unwanted consequences.

Our laws include rules for Intestacy (dying without a Will) which provides a set formula for the distribution of your estate. However, this may, and probably will, produce a distribution of your estate which could be at odds with your intentions, especially if you have recently come out of a relationship .The issues today are further complicated with multiple marriages, de facto partnerships, same sex couples and offspring arising from one or more unions, including from time to time ex-nuptial children whose presence often comes to light at the most inconvenient and unexpected times, but almost certainly when the prospect of a distribution or inheritance is at hand.

I strongly recommend if you do not have a Will, or if you recently exited a relationship, you should consult an adviser about the intended distribution of your estate in the event of your undoubtedly undeserved demise. For those who have recently regained single status, whether through design or circumstances, this is just as important.

For further information or enquiry on the above, please contact us or sarah.slattery@nevile.com.au.

Getting Married ?



We understand that there is a never-ending list of things to plan before getting married or entering into a lifetime commitment but have you thought about the important legal protections you and your loved one may need?

 Our services will help you in every stage of your relationship.

 Before starting your journey together, you should consider preparing a Binding Financial Agreement. This is especially important where parties bring unequal contributions to the relationship.

It can be a sensitive area, however it is much easier to discuss prior to entering a lifelong relationship and creates certainty of outcome should circumstances change in the future.

 We can also help you find the best options to protect assets in your relationship for you, your partner and other loved ones.

 Our Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney package provide you with the documentation needed to ensure your wishes are known and can be honoured and reduce stress on your loved ones during difficult times.

 No one ever wants things to go wrong but with a plan in place you will be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way.

 In the unfortunate circumstance that something does happen, legal documentation is the last thing you want to have to deal with.  Thinking about your options now will save you heartache, time and money in the future. Let us advise you on important issues which are often overlooked in the lead-up to a lifelong commitment.

Feel free to contact our office to discuss your options and to organise an initial meeting with one of our friendly team.


Property division in short-term relationships: Where do you stand?

Family Law Act s.90SB

Property division in short-term relationships: Where do you stand?

It was meant to be forever. Turns out forever was closer to 18 months. But it’s not always as simple as calling the removalists and downloading Tinder. Even short-term relationships can lead to complex wrangling over property in the Family Court.

But we weren’t married and don’t have kids!

If your de facto relationship (with no kids) lasted at least 2 years, then the Family Law Act applies to property division. This is also the case for same-sex de facto couples. However, the court may be able to make an exception for relationships of less than 2 years duration, provided an Applicant can prove:

1. That there was a relationship

Time is not the only factor used to determine the existence of a relationship (in the absence of official paperwork). The Court can also consider other aspects such as: your living arrangements, whether there was sexual involvement and whether others considered you a couple.

And, (in accordance with s.90SB of the Family Law Act), that:

2. That the party seeking the orders has made substantial contributions

This means the Applicant has to prove that, during the relationship, he or she made substantial contributions to the acquisition, and/or maintenance and/or improvement of assets. This could include real estate, bank accounts, shares, vehicles and superannuation.


3. A failure to make the orders sought would result in serious injustice to that party.

What the Court needs to see is that it would be manifestly unfair not to make an order. This involves providing evidence that not having the matter heard in the Family Court would likely cause the Applicant future suffering. An Applicant may also have to prove that there is no alternative or more appropriate venue to deal with the case.

Assuming a relationship is proven, if the court is not satisfied of points 2 and 3 means the Court does not have jurisdiction under the Family Law Act and the Application will be dismissed. (We’ll get to the issue of legal costs another time!) If the Application is rejected, the case could still proceed in a different jurisdiction, e.g. the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal, where different legislation will apply.

If the Family Court accepts the case, then it can proceed through the system as per other cases. However, allowing a claim to proceed, doesn’t necessarily mean a claim will succeed.

A Hypothetical – Are you Sam or Alex?

Shortly after starting a relationship, Alex moves into Sam’s place. Sam and Alex share expenses and mortgage payments initially. Then, Sam’s family law property settlement requires her to re-finance her home (formerly her marital home) so she can buy-out her ex-husbands. Unfortunately, Sam is unable to obtain finance, so Alex kindly offers to obtain the loan.

Alex then begins making all the repayments, and they both share household expenses. After 21 months, sadly, the relationship comes to an end. The house is in Sam’s name, however, the mortgage is in Alex’s name.

Alex wants the money back that he paid towards the mortgage.

Sam doesn’t think he’s owed anything, after all, he had to live somewhere.

Are you Sam or Alex?

This is just one of many examples which we can help you with.

How do I avoid this legal nightmare?

Nobody wants to think about breaking up when they’re giddy on dopamine. But if you’re currently in a new relationship where s.90SB of the Family Law Act could apply, then consider sitting down with David Dudderidge to discuss how to best protect your assets and/or simplify any future split.

On the flipside, contact David if you’re parting ways with a short-term domestic partner and want to clarify what your options are.

Nevile & Co.’s David Dudderidge practices in all areas of Family Law, including cases such as these. With years of experience to draw from, he’s helped clients to preserve property and receive their proper entitlements.

For assistance with your family law matters, whether it be property, parenting or divorce, please contact David on:
03 9664 4700
0412 621 075 (SMS)