Make a Will Month – Charitable Giving

From Gilmour Braul Hiebert Law Office

While it can be uncomfortable to think about estate planning, it is important to consider how you want your assets to be divided upon your passing. Creating a will allows you to make sure your wishes are known should anything happen to you in future, which can help avoid any unnecessary feuding or arguments between surviving family members after your passing.

In the event you were to pass away without having created a will, there is legislation that would dictate how the assets remaining at the time of your death would be divided. This legislation, called The Intestate Succession Act (Manitoba), provides set rules on how your estate will be divided.

Any specific gifts of particular items or specific dollar values to a particular person or organization can only be accomplished in a will. There are many other benefits to having a will, but those are outside the scope of this post. Should you have any questions regarding the general benefits of creating a will, please feel free to reach out to our office.

Gifts under wills can represent a significant portion of a charity’s funding and can play a key role in allowing the charity to continue their work. Charitable gifts can therefore allow you to support an organization or charitable purpose that is important to you even after your passing.

When leaving a gift to a charitable organization, it is important to ensure you have the correct name of the organization and have accurately identified the name of the organization and the specific branch or chapter, if applicable. This will avoid any confusion at the time your estate is being distributed as to the intention behind the gift. We recommend reaching out to the organization to confirm the correct name and address of the organization so it can be appropriately identified in the will.

It is possible that after the will is prepared, the specific organization may cease to exist. We therefore recommend that you consider whether you would want the gift intended for the organization to go to a similar or successor organization or to form part of the residual of the estate to be divided in accordance with the other provisions of your will if the specific organization has ceased to exist.

You can also authorize your executor to pay the amount to a charitable organization that the executor considers similar to the organization that has ceased to exist or to an organization that has similar purposes. For instance, if you gave a gift in your will to the Pembina Valley Humane Society, but subsequent to the will being created the Pembina Valley Humane Society ceased operations and was replaced with a different humane society that operated in this region, your executor would have the authority to give the gift to this new humane society so that the intention behind the gift, being to benefit animals in the region, can still be accomplished.

In terms of what sort of gift you can give to a charity, there are a number of options for the type of gift that can be given to a charitable organization. For instance, you may consider any of the following:

  1. You could gift a specific dollar value to the charitable organization, provided you have a degree of certainty that the estate will be worth more than this amount;
  2. You could gift a percentage of your estate to the charitable organization; or
  3. You could gift specific property items to the organization for their use or for them to sell and retain the proceeds from the sale.

These are just some of the types of gifts you could consider as part of your will.

The most important thing is to make sure you consider what you want to happen with your assets and belongings at the time of your passing and to consider whether there are any specific aims you hope your estate can accomplish. Whether these goals are to support a specific family member, to make sure a specific item goes to a specific person or organization, or to support a cause you are passionate about, these are all goals that can be accomplished by creating a will.