A dispute over control of a family trust set up in 2007 by an architect who divorced his wife in 2018 and removed her from the trust – leaving two new trustees in control – has been resolved by Western Cape High Court Judge Patrick Gamble.

Cape Argus report says the applicants were Cornelius Meier’s former wife, Margo, and the two eldest of their four children, who are also trustees.

Cornelius had amended the terms of the trust a number of times.

The first amendment in 2008 altered the beneficiaries named in the original trust deed to include Cornelius himself, Margo, their four children and any further children born of the marriage.

This also gave the trustees absolute discretion in regard to the declaration and allocation of any benefits to the named beneficiaries. 

Cornelius made other changes to the beneficiaries and control without informing Margo.

In later amendments, Cornelius added his brothers-in-law, Johan van Zyl and Johannes du Toit.

The thrust of Margo’s case was that she was unlawfully removed as a trustee.

Gamble agreed with her and said: ‘I am satisfied that the applicant has made out a case for the relief sought in the notice of motion. Her removal as a trustee was not in accordance with the provisions of the trust deed and is thus unlawful and must be set aside.’

Full Cape Argus report

Judgment