No one anticipates having fun when writing a will. But Childview's columnist explains why it’s wise
It was a family tragedy that propelled my husband and me into the lawyer’s office to update our will. Because someone close to us in age and relation- ship died suddenly, our own mortality seemed to hover nearby. We didn’t want our kids to be vulnerable, so in we went to fine-tune a few things.
Contemplating our will put us in a minority—upwards of 56 per cent of Canadians do not even have a will to begin with, according to a 2012 survey by LawPro. As we sat in the office, we remembered a long-ago discussion to leave part of our estate—and I use that term loosely—to charity.
Even though we were confident that leaving part of our estate to charity was the right thing to do, and a great model for our kids about what was important to us, we still felt trepidatious. It seemed like a big step.
But when our will was signed, sealed and delivered, we felt relieved that our final communiqué to our children would be consistent with the way we tried to live our lives.
Lindsay North, a long-time World Vision supporter who died last year, was a planned giver extraordinaire. North, a Kelowna, B.C., resident who passed at 98, left his entire estate to World Vision Canada. In the last four years of his life, this unassuming man who liked to meet for coffee at the local mall had finally reached his goal: sponsor 100 children at the same time.
“I think it was the most important thing he was doing,” says Roger Hardy, a World Vision development adviser in West Vancouver who knew North. North’s greatest wish was for the good work of sponsorship to continue after his death. It will, because of his thoughtfulness and preplanning.
Kendra Hickton, a World Vision planned giving adviser, agrees that North’s story is extraordinary. Only a se- lect few will follow his 100 per cent example. Most Canadians leave a percentage of their estate or a set amount. Hickton says a simple idea to consider is to “add a child” to your family called charity. “The concept is that you would divide your estate between the number of children you have plus one more,” says Hickton. “The ‘one more’ could be World Vision. This allows you to generously support a cause that is important to you.” Hickton adds that it’s possible there wouldn’t be much reduction in the amount of inheritance your beneficiaries would receive because of Canadian tax incentives.
In fact, depending on your portfolio, there can be potential for tax savings when an estate includes a charitable gift. Taxes go down, and in some cases your beneficiaries’ inheritance might go up. Just as importantly, “You are passing on your values; your family gets to see what you believed in,” says Hickton.
Hickton’s advice for planned giving
1. It's not just a slogan. You really are richer than you think. “People don’t realize how much they have to share. One of the myths we deal with is that estate planning is only for the wealthy,” says Kendra Hickton. Through smart estate planning, she explains, a charitable gift in your will increases as your estate grows throughout your life.
2. Speak to an estate planner. “We partner with some pretty amazing people who can help donors,” says Hickton. “You can talk to a planned giving adviser here at World Vision to get started.”
3. Speak to your family. “We encourage donors to tell their family their plan so there are no surprises.” They can ask questions, and you can explain why your planned gift is so important to your legacy.
4. Put in writing. Visit your lawyer and draft your bequest. If World Vision is your recipient, the charity’s representatives can provide its full legal name and charitable number.
5. Make the call. If you’re a person who appreciates a “thank you”—and who doesn’t?—and you have chosen to leave a gift to World Vision, let them know. “If you put someone in your will, it’s like we’re a part of the family,” says Hickton. “We’d love to know that the gift is coming, so we can thank them and stay connected with them.”
Call 1-800-714-3280, ext. 2731 to find out more about planning a gift to World Vision.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Childview.