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Adams v. Jankouskas

Supreme Court of Delaware
452 A.2d 148 (Del. 1982)


Facts

At the time of her marriage to John Jankouskas (plaintiff), Stella Jankouskas was the owner and operator of a small, unprofitable beauty shop. It was the second marriage for both John and Stella, and each had children from prior marriages. During her marriage with John, Stella established a corporation with all shares of common stock issued in her name. The corporation purchased an apartment building that John renovated over a five-year period. Subsequently, Stella moved her beauty shop into the building. The corporation also acquired a home that became the Jankouskases’ residence. John paid monthly rent to the corporation for the Jankouskases’ joint use of the home. The income earned by John and Stella was pooled together into the Jankouskases’ joint account or the corporation’s account and was controlled by Stella. Stella died, leaving an estate valued at approximately $350,000. However, John received only about $40,000 of personal property and some other items. The remainder of Stella’s estate was bequeathed to Stella’s niece, Dolores Adams (defendant), who was the executrix of Stella’s estate. John filed a petition seeking equity from the apartment building, the home, and other assets acquired during the marriage. Adams considered these to be the sole assets of Stella’s estate. Following a hearing, the trial court awarded John 50 percent of Stella’s estate. The court concluded that Stella had created a constructive or resulting trust for John’s benefit. Adams appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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