“Planned Giving” – Straight Answers for Regular Folks

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What is “planned giving” anyway?

“Planned giving” is a phrase that charities use often and donors almost never say! In a nutshell, it means you create a charitable gift now that goes to the organization you love in the future, usually when you die.

It’s “planned” because it takes some thought and preparation, and because you should consult a lawyer and your financial planner about it. The easiest planned gift is part of something you should have anyway: your Will.

Sounds like a lot of work. Is it complicated?

It’s not really a lot of work. Everyone, regardless of income or assets, should have a Will, and everyone should prepare that Will with the help of a lawyer and a financial advisor. Including a charitable gift adds a few minutes to those conversations and just a few sentences to your Will.

Why should I consider it?

A gift in your Will lets you make the gift of a lifetime to a cause you believe in – a gift you might not be able to afford while you’re alive. Here’s the compelling explanation from Colleen Bradley, my colleague at PGgrowth and a lifetime specialist in Wills and estate planning.

People think that leaving money to a charity will diminish what they can leave to their kids. But because of Canada’s tax regulations, you can give money to a charity that you would otherwise give to Canada Revenue Agency in taxes. And if your net income in the year of your death is lower than the amount you give, your executor can claim a rebate against your previous year’s income and add that to your estate.

What should I tell my family?

Talking it through your with kids is a crucial step, Colleen advises. Explain that your charitable donation will offset taxes on the estate. They’ll be happy to see it go somewhere other than the tax collector!

And even if they aren’t, she says, it’s your money. You have the right to give it to charity.

How does it benefit the charity I care about?

That charity probably struggles to support its current programs, launch new ones, renew buildings and equipment, perhaps take a risk on something promising but untried. When it receives a gift through someone’s Will, the charity can use that gift for something special – something it couldn’t do otherwise. Or it can save and invest the gift so that the yearly interest goes on supporting programs you’ve been giving to year by year. Talk to the charity you love about using your bequest in the way you’d like it to be used.

Anyone can make a bequest. The amount doesn’t matter – but supporting a cause you cherish, leaving a legacy of values as well as financial disbursements, matters a lot. It’s one of the most important things you can do to build the world you’d like to see.

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