Leaving a legacy

Dec 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured, Leave a Legacy

By Randy Ray

Few Canadians realize their money and assets can be put to good use by charitable organizations after they’ve passed away.

The fact is, more than 80 per cent of Canadians contribute to charitable organizations throughout their lifetime, but only seven per cent continue this support by including a charitable gift in their will or estate plan.

The LEAVE A LEGACY™ program is attempting to change that by raising awareness of how Canadians can use their wills and estate plans to donate money to charity.

A program of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, LEAVE A LEGACY™ encourages people from all walks of life to make gifts through a will or other gift-planning instrument to the charity or non-profit organization of their choice through 19 regional programs, including one in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

The program is helping Canadians learn how a legacy gift to a favourite charity can make a difference for years to come, says Ruth MacKenzie, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP).

“Today, people from all walks of life and income levels are making a difference by supporting charities or causes they care about. Taking the next step and continuing that support through a gift in a will can be a compelling way to leave behind a legacy that tells a powerful story of your life,” says MacKenzie.

Before deciding where your assets will go after you die, consider this:

• In coming years, close to $1 trillion will transfer from one generation to the next by means of individual estates.

• Over the years the federal government has increased bequests and other planned gifts by implementing legislation designed to encourage more and larger gifts to charities from individuals and corporations.

• Although you may like to leave your entire estate to family and friends, depending on the current tax laws, leaving a gift to charity in your will may reduce the taxes payable upon your death significantly.

LEAVE A LEGACY™ does not solicit gifts for any particular organization. Its aim is to raise awareness of the importance of including a charitable gift in the estate planning process.

LEAVE A LEGACY™ helps put money into the coffers of a variety of charities that raise funds for causes such as health care, education, animal welfare and the environment.

It is a painless way to make an enormous difference because a donation will not affect a person’s current lifestyle but will make a big difference for charities, many of which are strapped for funds. It is a win-win situation, say those close to the program.

People who decide to will money to charities can do it in several ways.

The easiest is to make a simple notation in a will, specifying exactly how much should be left and where it should go. Prospective donors can also purchase a life insurance policy and make the charity of their choice the beneficiary. The best strategy is to talk to your lawyer, your family and your financial planner before deciding.

If you want your bequest to go to a specific office and be used in a specific manner, state in your will that you are leaving a gift to the Ottawa Division, rather than simply the named charity. And state clearly that your donation is to be used in a specific way,  if that is your desire.

10 things you can do to leave a legacy

1. Prepare a will. Without a will you lose control over your property at death.

2. Leave a gift in your will for the not-for-profit organizations that made a difference in your life.

3. Leave a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the assets in your will to a not-for-profit of your choice.

4. Consider using assets for your legacy gift. These include but are not limited to cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, term deposits, real estate, vehicles, art, jewelry, or insurance. Such gifts may even provide tax savings.

5. Name a not-for-profit organization as a beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF or pension.

6. Name your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary of an existing or paid-up life insurance policy.

7. Purchase a new life insurance policy naming your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary.

8. Remember loved ones with memorial gifts.

9. Encourage family and friends to leave gifts to not-for-profits in their wills.

10. Ask your financial or estate planning advisor to include charitable giving as part of their counsel to clients.

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