Montague Law is a general practice law firm focusing on the most frequently needed legal services for individuals: Wills & Estates, Family Law and Conveyancing. Our areas of practice also include a number of less common services relating to small business and relating to litigation.
It is difficult to maintain expertise in many areas at once, and so because we do want to provide good service, you won’t find us claiming to be able to do everything.
Please see below for a quick overview of what we do:
- Family Law including property, children’s matters and divorce applications
- Wills and other estate planning including powers of attorney and advance care directives
- Deceased estates including grants of probate and letters of administration, and contested estates
- Conveyancing for both residential and commercial properties
- Contract advice and drafting for a variety of types of documents including contracts for purchase and sale of business and lease agreements
- Debt Collection
- General Litigation
We are experienced in the three main areas of family law: property settlements, divorce applications and parenting orders about children.
It is invariably a good idea to have a formal division of property after a matrimonial or de facto relationship breakdown.
From a legal perspective this requires making disclosure of each party’s property and financial resources, and then seeking orders about the property. Ideally clients have already worked out a general proposal with their former spouse, in which case we can simply make sure that our clients are not getting less than what they think and then document the agreement.
For those that cannot agree, we are often able to successfully negotiate consent orders, but failing that it can be necessary to bring an application and have a dispute in court in order to ensure the best outcome.
Parenting orders about children
If there is a disagreement between parents about how their child or children should be raised then it can be necessary to resort to the legal process in order to resolve the issue or force a change to the present arrangements. The most typical type of application is about seeking more time with a child, but other questions about access, schooling and the upbringing of children can be the subject of parenting orders in the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court.
As with property settlements, we are often able to successfully negotiate consent orders for this type of matter. If a suitable outcome can’t be achieved by agreement then an application to the court would be required, during which we would engage a barrister to represent you in court.
Please note that we do not do Legal Aid matters. If you do need Legal Aid please contact the Legal Services Commission.
We can also assist you with preparing an application for divorce, attend at court for the application and assist you with any difficulties or unusual circumstances.
Wills & estate planning
Estate planning is about making proper preparation for what happens when you die or become unable to live your life as you are used to. A Will is typically the most basic requirement for that.
With a Will, the main thing is to choose who is to receive your property and who is to carry out your Will (your executor). But there are many ways to do that and many other considerations, including how your body is to be disposed of, who will look after any minor children, whether your house, superannuation or life insurance would actually pass through your Will at all, and potential claims by dissatisfied family members. When drafting a Will we go through these with you and help you to resolve the uncertainties that might be faced by your family when the time comes for the distribution of your estate after your death.
Some people’s circumstances require far more involved Wills, particularly where there are business or investment structures in place, or people within the family that have a disability, or at risk of financial loss, and we can help with that too.
Aside from a Will and dealing with superannuation, most people should have an enduring power of attorney and advance care directive. These documents are used to empower someone else to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so yourself. The enduring power of attorney covers most legal and financial matters and the advance care directive covers health and general care decisions.
Without these documents there is a greater risk of delay and disagreement about how your affairs are looked after.
If someone you know has already lost the capacity, but does not have an up-to-date Will, enduring power of attorney or advance care directive, then there are still legal avenues to address the omission, but they can be more involved and more restrictive.
Estate administration is the process of dealing with someone’s property after they have died.
The estate of anyone who owns significant property, including land other than jointly owned land, cannot be administered in South Australia without a grant of administration from the Supreme Court (either probate or letters of administration).
We are able to assist in drafting the required documents to obtain a grant of probate (if there is a Will) or letters of administration (if there is no Will). Sometimes, particularly if a Will has not been properly prepared, it is necessary to first obtain an order about the Will from a court
We are also experienced in helping executors and administrators deal with the property and other estates concerns once a grant of probate or letters of administration has been obtained.
In South Australia there are three main types of disputed estates:
- A claim for further provision from an estate under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act
- Contesting a Will as being invalid (due to a lack of mental capacity, lack of formality or otherwise)
- A dispute about how an executor or administrator should be dealing with the estate
We can provide advice and assist with each of these types of claim as well as other sundry disputes that can arise in relation to estates.
Conveyancing is the task of transferring (conveying) property from one person to another, usually in the context of the sale and purchase of land or businesses.
It mostly involves preparing the legal documentation required to transfer the property, giving effect to the transfer and making sure that the money for the transaction is dealt with in the correct manner.
We regularly provide conveyancing services for our clients and can assist with both land and business contracts. We can also prepare leases, mortgages and caveats, as well as providing conveyancing services in relation to joint tenancies and deceased estates.
We can also provide advice on Form 1 Vendor’s Disclosure Statements and waivers of cooling-off periods under the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act.
We can assist with advice and drafting services for a wide variety of different types of legal documents.
In addition to documents related to conveyancing (leases, land and business contracts – see above) our areas of practice include small business documentation (trust deeds, terms & conditions), advice on residential village agreements, private loan and other private agreements.
Please note that—in accordance with Law Society recommendations—whilst we can prepare guarantee documents we do not provide guarantee advice or certificates of advice where requested by lenders.
Debt collection and other litigation
In addition to family law and estate litigation, we represent clients in debt collection matters and a variety of other miscellaneous types of litigation.
Debt collection matters can take a variety of paths depending upon the nature and size of the debt, whether there is any security for the liability and whether the debtor is an individual, company or trustee. We can assist with the preparation of bankruptcy notices, statutory demands, mortgage possession applications and ordinary run-of-the-mill debt recovery claims.
Many clients have claims that would constitute minor civil actions (including monetary claims less than $12,000) in the Magistrates Court. For these we are able to assist you with letters of demand and prepare the documents for court. We cannot attend at court on your behalf, but we can help you along the way.
Some of the main types of litigation we don’t do (because there are others better specialised in the area) are criminal matters, personal injury claims, employment matters and patent disputes.