Phil Roberts, who prepares lots of last wills and testaments, reminded his civic club audience last week of his lifelong motto: “You can’t take it with you.”

Which is true, of course, but he then told of the couple who decided that was not really true. Each one prepared a paper sack full of their most treasured possessions.

They marked them “His” and “Hers,” and put them in the attic, planning to pick the proper bag up on the way to heaven.

The gentleman died first, as is often the case, and ere long the widow decided to go check the attic contents. She found both bags still there.

“I knew we should have put his in the basement,” she said.

Roberts shared two pages of samples of things that could happen to the heirs of people who died without writing a will, illustrating all the ramifications of Texas law.

He noted that things that might apply to people in Texas could be completely different from the rules and regulations of other states.

He also reminded us of the long battle over the estate of Howard Hughes with Texas, California and Nevada all fighting over the right to distribute his enormous estate. Texas eventually won out and a court in Houston had the final say.

After people who claimed to be wives and people who claimed to be children — along with a taxi driver who claimed Hughes had left his money to him — were all denied, the money was finally divided among a bunch of cousins.

Roberts was, of course, showing that leaving a will is the right thing to do. He also noted those who type out wills from an online document seldom get them approved because they are hardly ever signed in the presence of two witnesses.

In addition to making a will concerning the big items, Robert also suggested making a list of personal things and the people who should receive them. This one doesn’t have to be witnessed, but reference to it should be made in the formal will.

He noted once more. Several times, in fact, that you can’t take it with you.

He also put on his “other hat” as mayor pro tem for Texas City to share his plans for that day, which was the anniversary of 9/11.

In the remarks he was to make at a memorial service at Emken Linton Funeral Home, sponsor of the special event, he said, “Freedom and security are precious gifts. We must show our gratitude to those who ran toward the problem, instead of away.

“In the same way, we honor those two weeks ago who acted the never hesitated to help.”

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at

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