By Maurice (‘Maury’) Prevost, First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
Over 90% of estate gifts in Canada, both in number and dollar value, are in the form of bequests. Leaving a bequest to your UU congregation and/or the CUC in your will can be a powerful gift for the future.
Three basic types of bequest:
- Specific gives a specific amount of money (e.g.$50,000) or specific property, such as securities.
- Residual gives all or a fraction (e.g. 35%) of what remains (the ‘residue’) after all debts, taxes, administrative expenses, and specific bequests have been paid by the donor’s estate.
- Contingent gives all or a fraction of an estate in the event of the prior death of other beneficiaries (e.g. a spouse) or if certain conditions have been met.
Giving a bequest offers several important benefits for the donor. A bequest has no impact on your income or assets during your lifetime. If you are concerned about
the possibility of outliving your financial resources, this is a gift you can still make. Bequests are revocable, meaning that if you change your mind about a beneficiary
or the amount of a bequest, you can revise your will or add a codicil. The tax receipt for a charitable bequest can help to offset other tax liabilities of the estate. Finally, making a bequest provides an opportunity to give substantially to a cause close to your heart.
A bequest to your congregation or the CUC is a good source of future revenue for the organization, especially at times when other sources of revenue or income from investments may be at a low point. Bequests can help with expenses or projects that may not be affordable within operating or capital budgets, or possible within the constraints of other restricted funds.
Bequests are distinctive in that they are often the largest financial gift a person can afford to make. My congregation recently received a specific bequest in the amount of $200,000—far more than the member gave during his lifetime. In accordance with the donor’s wishes, some of the bequest proceeds are being used to help fund our ministerial intern position, which we have struggled to maintain in our operating budget.
Bequests are a way to give long after you are gone, and offer interesting options when planning your estate. In any event, be sure always to have a will and powers of attorney; review them every three to five years, and update them as circumstances change (e.g. death of a spouse). Without these documents, provincial legislation dictates what will happen and it may be quite different from what you intended.
Remember to discuss your plans with loved ones and others implicated (if, for example, you are naming a friend as your executor, or guardian for your minor children). And make your bequests as unrestricted as possible: restrictions can, with unexpected future developments, make it impossible for the charitable organization to accept the gift or to use all of the bequest proceeds—a lose-lose situation. And be sure to always obtain professional legal advice for your situation and province of residence.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to consider leaving a bequest to the CUC.