Merton Simpson - a NY artist , pre-eminent collector of African art, and gallery owner - died 2 weeks ago. His body remains unburied at the funeral home due to a family dispute.
Prior to his death, a guardian was appointed to manage Mr. Simpson's affairs. His estate is valued "in the millions" but the assets are illiquid. The guardian does not have enough funds to pay for a funeral and the executor of the estate has not been appointed yet and will likely also have insufficient liquid funds in the near term.
The primary lesson is that Mr. Simpson should have included a trust in his planning and transferred his assets to it prior to his death. The trustee could have sold art pieces as necessary without outside supervision. Mr. Simpson would have avoided avoided the guardianship, the delay caused by waiting for the court to officially appoint an executor, and the Sherman Hemsley-esque burial fiasco.
Even without estate taxes, trusts are still necessary.