Is a Gift in Your Will Right for You?
Many of us wish we could do so much more to help the less fortunate among us. But our incomes are limited – and most of us must choose carefully when we’re deciding whom to give to and how much to give.
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Many Canadian donors – especially those of us over the age of sixty – are discovering an exciting way to exercise our philanthropy. Gifts to charity in our Wills are a true philanthropic opportunity.
Most of us think day-to-day about our monthly income. We use it to pay bills, take trips, buy necessities (and sometimes extravagances) and make our charitable contributions. Money comes in. Money goes out. At the end of the month, we hope we’ve balanced it all.
We rarely think about our assets however. Things like our homes, our summer cottages – even our investment portfolios – don’t get the kind of regular attention that our incomes do. Yet, our assets can be considerable.
When Calvin’s wife died, he had no choice but to start managing his own finances. She had always done that. Once Calvin got a handle on things, he understood that he was living on retirement income of about $45,000 a year. Yet, the value of his home and cottage (both mortgage-free) was currently in the neighbourhood of $700,000. As Calvin got more comfortable with his finances, he realized that he was in a position to make sizeable bequests to each of his grandchildren, and make a couple of meaningful bequests to charities that he and Jacqueline had supported for many years.
That’s why your Will can be such a powerful philanthropic tool. For many of us, a single bequest to charity can amount to more than a lifetime of charitable giving.
Don and Sheila have been giving a few hundred dollars a year to several charities for the past 40 years. Just after Don’s 70th birthday, they did a little exercise and estimated that their total donations during their married life were about $12,000. They had recently decided to plan two charitable bequests that represented 10% of their total estate. With their current net worth of $750,000, those two bequests would amount to $75,000 – more than six times the sum total of their lifetime giving.
Charitable bequests aren’t for everyone. But, there are 1.5 million Canadians alive today who have added meaning and purpose to their lives by planning to share their estates with the charities they care about most deeply.