The values that guide our lives are as much a part of the legacy we leave behind as any assets – and there are few better ways to demonstrate commitment to those values and share them with loved ones and future generations than through a charitable gift in a will.
Passing on those values is just one reason donors include a legacy gift to SickKids Foundation, but there are many others too, ranging from supporting The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where friends or family may have received care, to trusting in an institution that is a rich part of the city’s history. But the result is the same: transforming the future of child health.
Planning for the future is as important for individuals and families as it is for charities, says Mark Goldbloom, the Foundation’s general counsel and chief risk officer.
“Philanthropy has helped to fund clinical and research work for decades,” says Mr. Goldbloom, recalling the 1954 legacy gift from J.P. Bickell that helped create the SickKids Research Institute, Canada’s largest hospital-based child health research institute, now housed in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning.
Cynthia Kett is a member of the SickKids Professional Advisors Council, a group of leading industry professionals dedicated to advancing philanthropic conversations across Canada and providing strategic insight and guidance to the Foundation. She says the objective of planned philanthropy is to determine which organization you want to support; how much you want to give; when to make the gift; and using the most tax-effective giving strategy, particularly for large gifts.
A principal of Stewart & Kett Financial Advisors, Ms. Kett says there are many estate-planning strategies to simultaneously benefit individuals and the Foundation. Examples include giving gifts of shares with unrealized capital gains, life insurance and, in some circumstances, registered accounts like registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs).
“Planning will ensure you divide up your estate in a way that makes sense for you. First and foremost, people want to ensure that the next generation of the family will be financially secure, and then they decide on the organizations that will be the recipients of any planned giving,” she says.
“There are many ways to give, and it’s important to consider the tax implications of each of those strategies.”
Parents showing generosity and discussing legacy gifts with their children can also create a multi-generational commitment to philanthropy, she says.
While many people know someone who may have received treatment at SickKids, for others it’s an opportunity to benefit all children and support the Hospital’s vision: Healthier Children. A Better World, she says.
“Personally, the more I have learned about SickKids, the more impressed I have become. Everyone who works there is so motivated and passionate, and the researchers are looking to make discoveries to benefit children all over the world. It’s wonderful to have such an outstanding world-class facility here in Toronto,” says Ms. Kett.
Steven Albiani, managing partner, Stratum Advisory Group, is also a member of the Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council.
“SickKids is smart to plan for today and the future with different types of gifts,” he says, noting some of these include gifts of securities and life insurance policies where tax credits are given today to individual donors while the Foundation reaps the benefit in the future. On the other hand, corporate donors can benefit from an income deduction.
Taking advantage of the preferential tax treatment for estate donations to offset any taxes owing means individuals who have provided for the next generation of the family are happy to see worthy causes also benefit from their estate, says Mr. Albiani. In the right circumstances, estate donations may also be used by either the estate or the deceased and in different years.
For people who know they will be donating to charity, he advises working with an advisor to actively manage tax planning and life insurance to benefit heirs and organizations like the SickKids Foundation.
“We also do a lot of work with private family foundations where we can gift private company shares to a private family foundation and use insurance to purchase back those shares and create liquidity so money can then be distributed to charitable organizations,” says Mr. Albiani.
Mr. Goldbloom advises people who are planning to leave the SickKids Foundation a gift in their will to communicate with the organization.
“It’s incredibly helpful for us to plan for the future,” he says.
Over the 11 years he has been with the Foundation, Mr. Goldbloom has experienced how valuable it can be if people let the organization know about the gift in advance. Not only does it help the Foundation plan and invest for the future of the Hospital, but it also ensures the gift will be properly fulfilled, including details like correct spelling of the charity’s name.
The Foundation takes its responsibilities very seriously, he adds.
“We make sure any gift left to us is used effectively for the purpose it was intended, is properly administered and has a positive impact on children’s health,” he says.
Another advantage to the person who has left a gift to the Foundation in their will is recognition through a plaque at the Hospital that honours donors during their lifetime, depending on their wishes, through the J.P. Bickell Society.
Mr. Goldbloom says families often visit SickKids to honour their loved ones by viewing the plaque and witnessing first-hand the impact of their generosity.
“It’s a very touching way for someone to be remembered,” he says.
While planning an estate and drawing up a will, it’s important to remember that every gift of any size helps and is appreciated, says Mr. Goldbloom.
“While there are many ways to leave a legacy gift, and many different strategies, we are grateful for every dollar,” he adds.
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