Philanthropy And Your Will

By Vanessa DeDominicis

phi•lan•thro•py is defined in the English Dictionary as “altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.” Donations to charity via a Will are a main source of income for many Canadian charities. Money left to charities through these bequests has a major impact on the work charities are able to do and is extremely important to all sorts of charitable causes.

As a Wills and Estates Lawyer, I often assist my clients with structuring their bequests to a charity or charities of their choosing. For the most part, philanthropic clients will either (1) leave a specific sum of money to a charity or charities of their choice prior to distributing the residue of their Estate, or (2) distribute their entire Estate to charity. Others mention a charity in their ‘disaster clause’ if there are no family members alive to inherit when they pass away. Another great way to gift money to charity is through life insurance, which flows outside of your Will.

Deciding how you distribute your hard earned money is an emotional and complex process. There is obviously not only one way of doing it. Some folks believe that they work hard all their lives so that the children they leave behind can afford to do the things that they themselves never could. Other folks take the view that the children they leave behind should work hard, just as they did, and not be given an ‘easy ride’ through a large inheritance.

So who is the most generous country? The World Giving Index, published by the Charities Aid Foundation surveyed 153 nations asking people whether they had given money to charity or volunteered or helped a stranger in the last month. As a nation, we didn’t do badly …..64% of Canadians give money to charity, 35% of Canadians have volunteered for charity in the last month and 68% have helped a stranger in the last month. We are supposedly the 4th most charitable country, with Australia, New Zealand and Ireland beating us, in that order.

Whether you leave money to charity in your Will, help a stranger on the street or donate your precious time to charity all are fundamentally important to our society and enable charities to continue to do the amazing work that they do.

Executing an up to date Will that reflects your current wishes will not only provide you with peace of mind, but it will minimize the costs of probating and administering your estate, which in turn will maximize the inheritance your beneficiaries will receive, charity or otherwise.

Vanessa DeDominicis is a Lawyer with Pushor Mitchell LLP. Please contact her on 250-869-1140 or dedominicis@pushormitchell.com for more information on Estate Planning.