Leaving a Legacy for Your Community
May is National LEAVE A LEGACY™ Month across Canada. LEAVE A LEGACY™ is a national public awareness program designed to encourage Canadians to leave a gift primarily through their will to a charity or non-profit organization of their choice.
The program is a donor-oriented education campaign to raise awareness of the importance of including a charitable gift in the estate planning process. The main goal of estate planning usually is making the greatest amount of one’s estate passes to the estate owner’s intended beneficiaries (children, family, charity). This often includes paying the least amount of taxes. A legacy gift can benefit your favourite cause or community non-profit significantly.
We are living in a time when an unprecedented amount of wealth is being transferred from one generation to the next. According to various reports reviewed on the web, in the next two decades 3.5 million Canadians are expected to die, leaving an estimated $1.5 trillion to their families and community.
A report prepared by Good Works (www.goodworksco.ca) on the State of the Legacy Nation found that 54 percent of the population surveyed has wills. The alarming part is 46 percent of Canadians currently don’t have a will. According to the LEAVE A LEGACY™ program, if this trend continues, about two million Canadians will end life without a will to protect their assets in the next two decades. Without a will, people lose the ability to control distribution of their estate to their chosen beneficiaries.
A common myth is people think you have to be wealthy to make a legacy gift. This is not true. Anyone can arrange to leave a charitable gift from their estate, regardless of its size. It means a great deal to a charity and provides for the future to carry on the organization’s mission.
I have been asked, how does one get started or where do you get assistance? Your financial planner, lawyer, accountant, or insurance agent can help you leave a gift. These allied professionals can tell you about the best gift vehicle and tax benefits of legacy gifts. You can also call the charity or the nonprofit organization and ask for the staff who manages the legacy or planned giving program. They can help you too.
The LEAVE A LEGACY™ program advises there are 10 things you can do today to make a difference:
1. Prepare a will.
2. Leave a gift in your will for the nonprofit organization that makes a difference in your life.
3. Leave a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your assets to a nonprofit organization.
4. Consider using assets for your legacy gift.
6. Name your favourite nonprofit as the beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy.
7. Purchase a new life insurance policy naming your favourite nonprofit as the beneficiary.
8. Remember loved ones with memorial gifts. A memorial gift in memory of a loved one is any type of gift given to remember a close friend or family member who has passed.
9. Encourage family and friends to leave gifts to not-for-profit in their wills.
10. Ask your financial or estate planning advisor to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan and to incorporate in their counsel to other clients.
For more information on the program, please visit http://www.leavealegacy.ca/
People give for many different reasons, whether it is to ensure their memory lives on or a way to ensure that their favorite charity is able to continue its important work, while for others it represents a way to minimize the tax liability that come with the transfer of one’s estate to surviving family members.
I have left a gift in my will to my favourite charity because I value the organization for its mission and good work. My reason for giving a legacy gift is to help the organization continue the work they are doing and ensure sustainability of core education programs and mentorship for the future.
By leaving a gift to a charity or nonprofit organization in your will or estate plan, you ensure your legacy gift continues to help others into the future.
Join me and create a brighter future for our community.
Roger D. Ali, Vice President, Development, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation and Volunteer President, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Horseshoe Chapter & long standing member of Canadian Association of Gift Planners, CAGP.