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Creating a Legacy Gift for the Future

We all strive to live our best lives. We work hard, play hard, and whenever possible, we do good—and for many, the idea of extending that good into the future is part of the long term vision of a fulfilling life.

Enter legacy giving—leaving behind part of one’s estate after passing and ensuring that the organizations and communities that inspire us in life continue successfully into the future.

Hilary Beard, director, Gifts & Estate Planning at BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, says a legacy gift might be the largest gift a donor makes, making each legacy decision very important and valued by the foundation.

“Thoughtful planning, assisted by experienced advisors, can provide gifts that are able to improve child health through treatment, equipment and research, to name a few,” she says. “As the only children’s hospital in the province, legacy gifts are a vital way in which all BC’s communities may ensure each child in the future receives the best medical care possible.”

Beard admires Dr. Mavis Teasdale, the sole pioneer hematologist and oncologist from the 60s who’s legacy to the foundation created her named endowment. Dr. Teasdale’s dedication lives on to continue the fight against childhood cancer.

Wills are powerful tools in legacy planning, allowing individuals to make thoughtful decisions—often with family input—about how to divide their estate.

Angela Chapman, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation president, thinks of individuals such as Vincenzo Albanese, an Italian immigrant who left everything behind in post-war Italy to pursue a dream of a new life in Canada. He worked throughout his entire life, helping build Vancouver and a future for his family.

“He chose to leave his estate to his family and his community,” Chapman says. “This included a legacy gift to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation to support the future of health care. His bequest gift funded a number of health care programs, state-of-the-art equipment and new technology that allows patients and health care teams to access live medical interpretation in over 240 languages.”

Albanese’s family shared with Chapman’s team that he wanted to support those who needed it the most.

“He loved Vancouver and wanted to take care of others in our province, and he thought there was nothing better than the hospital that provided the most specialized care,” she says. “His story is just one of so many who are making a difference.”

Arthritis Research Canada depends on legacy gifts for advancing its goals to find solutions that help people overcome the challenges caused by their arthritis—challenges that interfere with daily life.

“Arthritis can prevent a person from working, being physically active and caring for young children,” says Dr. Diane Lacaille, the organization’s scientific director. “It can cause sleep problems, mental health issues and put people at risk for serious complications like heart attack and stroke. Legacy gifts directly support research to find answers to these life-changing problems so that people can thrive despite their arthritis.”

While Arthritis Research Canada has made significant progress in arthritis treatment, there is still much to be done to lessen pain and disability and help people live well with arthritis. Legacy giving makes this possible.

“Our multi-disciplined research team is conducting over 100 studies aimed at preventing arthritis, facilitating early diagnosis, finding better treatments and improving quality of life,” Lacaille says. “We are giving people the tools they need to continue to live full lives even with arthritis.”

Legacy gifts are also critical to Burnaby Hospital Foundation providing funding for urgently needed medical equipment. Currently, the foundation is underway with a $30 million transformational campaign called A Proud History, A Bright Future to create Phase 1 of a state-of-the-art facility to meet the health care needs of the community and for generations to come.

“Donors often cite the thousands of patients that will benefit from their legacy gift as a primary reason to choose Burnaby Hospital as a beneficiary of their estate,” says Sylvia Zylla, Legacy Giving for Burnaby Hospital Foundation. “In a typical year, Burnaby Hospital cares for over 200,000 patients with diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures. It also has one of the busiest emergency departments in the Fraser Health Authority.”

Variety – the Children’s Charity imagines a future where BC’s kids with special needs are thriving, achieving their full potential and having their needs met every single day.

“Legacy gifts will provide help and hope to BC families who have children with special needs,” says Cally Wesson, Variety BC CEO. “They ensure that Variety is always there to step in for these families where healthcare ends, to be able to say “Yes!” when they need it most. Your gift gives kids the opportunity to thrive and reach their unique potential.”

Variety – the Children’s Charity has been helping children in British Columbia for more than 55 years. Legacy gifts ensure that Variety continues to help BC’s kids by providing education support, specialized therapies, medical equipment and supplies and mental wellness counselling.

How to choose from many charitable organizations doing good work is an important question. A legacy gift can be powerful for creating lasting change, which means the first consideration should be organizations and institutions that have made a difference in a donor’s life and the lives of family and friends. The second consideration is how to plan legacy gifts so the transition is clear and smooth for families.

That means paying attention to the details when creating a Will or other documents. BC Children’s Hospital Foundation can provide helpful pros and cons on choosing an executor, as well as advice on deciding on a gift amount.

“Ensure your lawyer or notary records the correct legal name in your Will or other designated asset document and check in with your charities if you are unsure,” Beard says. “Consider making your legacy a percentage, so you do not have to worry about changing paperwork if you need to use your funds.”

Discussing the beneficiary list with professional advisor(s) is the next step, as there are some planning techniques that can help reduce the tax liability that an estate could incur.

“It’s important for people to know that they can take care of the ones they love and support the causes they value most,” Lacaille says. “Even a small portion of an estate can go a long way.”

For example, 5% of an $850K estate translates into a donation of $42,500. “We recommend donors speak with their professional advisors to get the best advice for their particular situation,” Lacaille adds. “Legacy giving not only leaves a lasting legacy after someone passes and keeps their memory alive in the community, but it also provides tax advantages,” Wesson says. “Due to Canadian tax regulations, funds that would typically go to the Canada Revenue Agency in taxes can instead be donated to a charity—ensuring that people who believe strongly in a cause can continue to support its mission even after they’re gone.”

Tim Esplen is a director of Nicola Wealth’s Private Giving Foundation (PGF). He says one of the best ways to ensure more funds are ultimately available to the end charities is through a PGF—an alternative to a private foundation, allowing donors to enjoy administrative convenience, cost savings and tax advantages while conducting their charitable giving.

“Ultimately, more good is done for a cause that the client cares deeply about,” he says. “That is the real power of the Nicola Wealth PGF.”

A donor establishes a donor advised fund (DAF) with PGF by entering into a Deed of Gift and making an initial gift. A DAF allows a donor to donate funds in years where they have a larger profit, a large capital gain or are selling part or all of their business. A legacy gift, say 20% of an estate, can integrate into current planning, and the yearly contribution reduces taxes payable today.

“An official tax receipt is issued every time new contributions are made to the foundation, allowing the donor to enjoy an immediate tax benefit with the flexibility to recommend a gift to the charities of their choice when they are ready,” Esplen says.

The advantage here is that the donor is making donations and receiving tax credits in the years when his income is likely the highest it ever will be, as opposed to in retirement. If the business owner decided to sell his business at a later date, once he has taken advantage of all other tax planning available, he can also donate a portion of the securities outstanding to the DAF to reduce the taxes owed on the sale and generate a bigger donation.

“The Nicola Wealth Private Giving Foundation provides more flexibility in donating and the opportunity to continue giving for as long as the need endures,” Esplen says. “It is a chance to leave a lasting legacy that is built around the spirit of charity and philanthropy, and it is a way to ensure that the worthwhile causes we hold dear continue to find the support they deserve.”

Learn more:

BC Children’s Hospital

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VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation

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Arthritis Research Canada

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Burnaby Hospital Foundation

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Variety – the Children’s Charity

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Nicola Wealth Management

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