Estate Planning And Charitable Gifts

By Vanessa DeDominicis

Leaving a charitable donation in your Will can be a wonderful way to benefit a charity that has meant a great deal to you during your lifetime. It gives the testator a really ‘feel good’ last word, and an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for all the great work that charities do for our community.

There are many different types of assets that can be donated. If your Estate will have cash, you can simply donate a sum of money to your favourite charity. It is also possible to donate your registered accounts like RRSPs, life insurance proceeds or personally held assets.

There are several reasons that people decide to make a charitable bequest:

  • Helping others – We all have an innate desire to help others. This is, of course, the main reason we give to charities during our lifetimes. A Will can ensure you keep giving after your death.
  • Tax Benefits – Your estate can reduce taxes that may be payable by making a charitable donation. You should talk to your Accountant for more information about this, during your Estate Planning process.
  • Leaving a legacy – Some charities will remember their donors by engraving their name on to a plaque, painting, wall or other object. This can leave you with a positive legacy and help console your bereaved loved ones. It may become a place where they can derive comfort from their loss.

There are also different types of bequests that can be drafted into your Will, depending on what you wish to achieve with your charitable gift:

  • Specific Bequest: You can designate a specific dollar amount or piece of property, such as real estate, stocks, bonds or works of art, for example: “ I give the sum of $X.XX (or description of other property) to XXX to be used for such of the objects and purposes as the Board of Directors shall from time to time determine."
  • Residual Bequest: You can donate all or a portion of your estate to the charity after all your debts, taxes, expenses and other bequests have been paid “ I give the residue of my estate (or percentage of the residue of my estate) to XXX to be used for such of the objects and purposes as the Board of Directors shall from time to time determine.”
  • Contingent Bequest: Your gift takes effect only if the primary intentions cannot be met (sometimes called the ‘disaster clause’). “ If neither (name of primary beneficiary) nor (name of alternate beneficiary) survives me for 30 days, then I give (describe amount of cash, property, percentage of residue or other gift) to XXX to be used for such of the objects and purposes as the Board of Directors shall from time to time determine.”

This is provided as information ONLY; it should NOT be construed as legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to provide you with specific advice for your own situation. For more information on estate planning/incapacity planning and to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact Vanessa DeDominicis on 250-869-1140 or dedominicis@pushormitchell.com. Vanessa practices in the area of Wills and Estates at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna and would be more than happy to assist you.