Making A Bequest

Unlike annual tax planning, estate planning may happen but once or twice in a lifetime, if at all. When making a will, even motivated donors sometimes miss this opportunity to extend their charitable giving to the year of their death, even though this is often when a taxpayer's income is greatest, due to tax rules bringing deferred income and deemed capital gains into income at death.

Making charitable gifts in a will is easy. Gifts of specific sums of money, called legacies, can be included in a new will or added by codicil (a brief document amending a will). For greater tax savings, consider making a bequest of specific publicly traded shares in your will instead of cash. The capital gains tax on those shares that would otherwise be payable by your estate will be eliminated. Other tax saving strategies involve gifting insurance proceeds or registered plan benefits. Consult a financial planner, accountant, or lawyer familiar with charitable giving to determine a strategy that is suited to you and your estate.

Plan now to share your life's work, not just your annual labours. This not only benefits the religious and educational purposes of a worthy charity like St. Joseph's College, it can reduce the tax that your estate would otherwise pay on your death.

Douglas G. Gorman has been practising law for 26 years. He is a founding partner of The Estate House, established in 2004 as Edmonton's first law firm dedicated solely to estate planning, wills and probate, and estate disputes. Contact information is available at