Leaving a legacy
...a conversation with trust advisor Gordon MacDonald
- What is the top reason people give for leaving a legacy?
In my discussions with clients, their primary reason seems to be a feeling of satisfaction that the funds they will be leaving will carry on purposes that they felt strongly about in their lifetime. Their participation in the charitable cause, whether it’s medical research or the arts or any other cause, will then carry on after they have passed away.
- What is the most popular form of legacy?
The most common type of bequest intention people think about first is a cash gift to a named active charity. Ironically, there are better ways of making provision for favorite charities, both for the donor and for the charity. Gifts of marketable securities, insurance policies and various other methods may provide better immediate benefit to the donor and longer term benefit to the charity.
- What are the advantages of making a gift from your Estate?
Capital gains taxes and the inclusion of any remaining funds in RRSP or RRIF accounts in the taxable income of the estate can lead to a pretty big tax bill when we die. Gifts to charity can soften the impact to the estate while doing lots of good for your favorite causes.
- What are the impact of legacy gifts on the organization and the person?
My experience as a professional executor and trustee in dealing with charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society is that legacy gifts enable the charitable organization to make longer term plans. If they are aware that there will be a certain gift at a certain time or a future income stream, funds can be earmarked and longer range objectives set. Charities can commit to longer range research or perhaps plan other specific capital fundraising around a particular goal.
I think for the donor, it’s the knowledge that your interests in a particular area will continue to receive support and focus even after you have gone.
- Do people need to have a lot of money to make a legacy gift?
It isn’t necessary to have a lot of money to make a difference. Canada is fortunate to have a vast infrastructure of registered charities assisting charitable causes and the income tax rules continue to be improved to incent us to make gifts. There is great need in so many areas. With the advice of the planned giving department in your favorite charity or with the assistance of your lawyer or estate planner, you can give in the time and the fashion that makes the best use of your legacy, for both you and your favorite charity.
Gordon MacDonald is the Branch Manager of The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company in Saint John, New Brunswick, a member of the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.
For information about making a legacy gift to the Alzheimer Society to help fund research and services to families, please contact our office at 519-941-1221 or email [email protected]. Legacy gifts can be made through a bequest in a Will, life insurance policy, charitable gift annuity, RRSP or RRIF, or charitable trust.
Note: Information about these options is not intended as specific financial planning or legal advice. You should always consult your legal advisors, financial planners and family members when considering a planned gift.