What legacy would you like to leave? Support for your children and grandchildren, perhaps, or a thriving business to pass down; maybe a lasting impact on your community?
All of these things are possible, with the right planning.
When we talk about leaving a legacy through our estate, “it’s about creating some kind of permanence – a lasting legacy for the community,” explains Michael Leggatt, an investment counsellor with RBC Wealth Management and board chair of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
“It’s also a way to create something lasting and meaningful that families can reflect on afterward,” he adds. “It’s really quite something when grandchildren can pause below the Hospital Foundation’s donor wall, see their grandparent’s name and have a discussion with their parents about why giving back in this way was important.”
For others without loved ones, leaving part or all of their estate to charities that are important to them is a way to share what they’ve earned during their lifetime in a meaningful way, Leggatt says.
Of course, legacy giving has a practical purpose as well – both to ensure your wishes are followed and to reduce the overall tax burden of the estate.
What does leaving a legacy look like?
Charitable gifts left as a bequest can take many forms, from RRSPs and RRIFs and TFSAs to Life insurance, cash and solid assets, such as real estate. Others prefer a donor-advised fund or private foundation to direct donations in perpetuity.
Different types of assets also bring different tax implications – for example, by naming the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation as a beneficiary of your retirement asset, proceeds will be paid directly to the Foundation without going through probate. However, naming your estate as the beneficiary and leaving instructions in your Will to donate a percentage or dollar amount requires the assets to proceed through probate.
To ensure your legacy plan unfolds as intended, maximizing the impact for the charity, Leggatt recommends taking an integrated approach, involving your estate and financial planners, and your tax professional – each an expert in their own field, and in their respective parts of the process.
And as families, goals and assets change over time, a regular review of your estate plan with your advisors is also a good idea, to ensure it stays current with your wishes, Leggatt says. As life can be uncertain, be mindful as well that if we become incapacitated, we lose the ability to change our estate plan.
It’s also a good idea to inform the charity of your intentions – not only does it let them share their appreciation and discuss what – if any – recognition you might like, but it can allow for future planning and help ensure the process happens smoothly. If you’d like your gift to go to a particular service or program, you can discuss that too.
Similarly, Leggatt strongly recommends discussing your wishes with your family and executors, so they understand your wishes. While conversations around legacy planning can be challenging, it’s an important step to preventing unintended hiccups in fulfilling your goals.
“Giving is a very personal decision but I think it’s important to have that conversation now, so there are no surprises,” Leggatt says.
To learn more about leaving a legacy with the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, and making a vital difference in your community, visit lmhfoundation.com/ways-to-give/legacy-giving