What You Need To Know About Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes… two of life’s realities.

Death and taxes… these are not subjects most people discuss regularly or think of often. But they are factors that influence our lives, our families and our communities. We can however, offset the impact of these two eventualities with some solid estate planning. Everyone, regardless of their age, can benefit from having a Will in place and by considering charitable donations as a way to reduce taxes while supporting a cause. Leaving a legacy to registered charities can result in significant tax relief and can make a lasting contribution to your community.

By definition a legacy is "anything received from or passed on by an ancestor." A legacy can be given in many ways, like money, property or life insurance policies. Regardless of the value, a legacy to a charity is a living reminder of individuals who cared about their community and supported causes that were important to them.

There are so many ways to give…

If you are in the process of updating your Will, or just beginning to prepare one, you should know that there are variety of ways you can support one or more of your favourite charities. You can include a bequest in your Will to a charity after family members have been taken care of, you can designate a charity as the beneficiary in a life insurance policy, or you can arrange a gift annuity or charitable reminder trust. While this may seem confusing, your lawyer, your accountant or financial planner or a representative from a charity you are interesting in supporting will help you explore these and other options.

Some planned giving options offer significant tax breaks, and should be reviewed as a part of your whole estate-planning picture. Everybody’s situation is unique and what works as a tax benefit for one individual, may not be the best choice for another. Remember whatever decisions you make when you are organizing your estate should be done in consultation with a professional advisor.

For a very long time people did not consider supporting a charity in their Will, because they simply never thought of it. Today it is becoming more commonplace as the public begins to see the many advantages of leaving a legacy, both from a financial and philanthropic perspective. In fact, for many people, making a charitable gift through their Will may represent the first real opportunity they have had to provide significant financial support to a project or cause in which they believe. For other people this kind of a gift can be the final donation they make in a lifelong commitment.

A major public education initiative called "LEAVE A LEGACY™" is taking place across Canada to promote the many benefits of estate planning and charitable giving. This initiative is a collaborative effort between local non-profit organizations, estate-planning professionals, community foundations, corporate funders and the media, and in Vancouver is supported by over 85 programs.

Taking charge of your financial affairs today ensures your wishes and dreams will be represented tomorrow, after your death. Talk to a financial planner, lawyer, accountant or insurance agent today, to can gain ideas about how to leave gifts that meet all of your charitable and personal objectives. The gift planning officer at your favourite charity will also be able to provide information that may be useful as you meet with your professional advisors.

A planned gift, a donor’s final gift, can have real tax benefits, but it also makes a real difference in the community.