May is Leave a Legacy Month in Canada, an important time to highlight the impact of legacy giving can have on charities, schools and organizations. Last year, Willful commissioned an AngusReid survey that found 12% of Canadians plan on leaving a legacy gift to charity in their will - while 57% of people don’t plan on leaving a legacy gift and 31% are undecided.
Many of us have causes we may donate to throughout our lifetime to help charities with their immediate needs. Legacy giving, however, is a little different. Donations usually are the answer to the question: “how can I help today?” Legacy gifts are the answer to: “how would I like to be remembered?”
Willful is proud to say we’ve enabled over 7,000 legacy gifts directed to charities in wills since our launch. Cash gifts alone have totalled to over $30 million.
What is a legacy gift?
A legacy gift (also known as a bequest) is a gift to charity or non-profit organization in your will. It can be a piece of property, cash or percentage of your estate. Legacy gifts play a key role in supporting charitable organizations but many people don’t know that they’re an option, how they are paid out or the tax benefits of these gifts.
What are the benefits of leaving a legacy gift?
People often worry that leaving a legacy gift means there will be less to give to their loved ones. The truth is, you can make a legacy gift without taking away from the gifts left to your family and friends. The Canadian government has created valuable tax incentives to encourage Canadians to leave legacy gifts. When you leave a bequest, your estate receives a tax credit for the full value of the bequest which adds a tax credit to your final income tax return. This can help to maximize the value of your residual estate for your beneficiaries.
Aside from tax incentives, there are many other reasons to leave a legacy gift. Legacy giving is a way to leave a lasting legacy of generosity and make a cause you care about an important part of your life story. Your gift might also cause others to think about their own philanthropic goals and inspire them to give back as well.
Legacy giving is also an easy way to support your favourite charity for generations to come. Many charities across Canada rely on legacy giving as a key source of funding, so you can be sure that your gift helps your chosen charity to continue its work.
While legacy giving makes it possible to leave much larger gifts than otherwise possible, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be wealthy to leave a legacy gift. You can leave as much or as little as you want - there is no gift too small to make an impact. Together, a little becomes a lot. Will Power found that if 8.5% of Canadians left a legacy gift by 2030, it could translate into as much as $40 billion to advance the causes that are important to Canadians. It only takes a few minutes to leave a gift to charity but it creates a legacy that lives on forever.
How do I leave a legacy gift?
It's easy to leave legacy gift in your will! When you make your will with Willful, leaving a legacy gift involves just a few clicks. After the Special Gifts section where you can assign property and lump sum cash gifts to your loved ones, you will see our charitable giving section that allows you to leave a lump sum to charities of your choice.
If you prefer to leave a percentage of your residual estate to a cause, you can add the organization as a beneficiary in the next section.
If you don’t see your charity in our dropdown list, please click the link to Canada Helps to find your organization and their CRA number.
You can come back at any time to make changes to your legacy gift, whether it’s adding additional organizations, changing the type of gift (dollar amount vs. percentage) or changing the gift value. Just log back in to your Willful account, make the changes and follow the attached instructions to sign and witness your will to make it legally-valid. It’s important to us that we not only educate Canadians on the power of legacy giving, but also make it as easy as possible to do.