How to Support Charities Through Your Estate Plan

As part of estate planning, people must ensure a smooth transfer of assets to beneficiaries. Between these discussions, charitable giving is an often-overlooked way to leave a legacy of compassion and kindness. 

People may honour their principles and make a difference by including a charity in estate plans. This expert discussion will explain the process of incorporating charitable gifts into estate planning for charitable institutions. 

Let us emphasize the importance of a skilled wills attorney in navigating the complexity of charitable estate planning.

Personal and Social Benefits of Charitable Donations

  • Supporting causes close to your heart brings satisfaction. 
  • Giving through your estate plan lets you leave a legacy of generosity and compassion.
  • Charitable gifts help address poverty, education, healthcare, and environmental conservation.
  • Building stronger communities and helping groups in need. 
  • Supporting charity strengthens communities and helps struggling individuals.

Tax Benefits Associated with Charitable Giving 

Canadians can claim their charity contributions as a tax deduction. A charitable donation tax credit is applied to your taxes for the year you donated. 

  • A nonprofit organization can issue a tax receipt for personal donations. 
  • This receipt will include your donation amount, charity name, and registration number.
  • Your tax return can include your charitable donation tax credit with this receipt.
  • Your tax credit depends on your donation. 

For the first $200 gift, you receive a 15% federal tax credit. The credit increases to 29% for donations over $200. Depending on where you live, provincial tax credits may supplement the federal tax benefit. British Columbia offers a 14%  tax credit for donations amount over $200

Example: If you donate $300, the calculation would be:

  • Federal Tax Credit: 29% of $300 = $87
  • Provincial Tax Credit (BC): 14% of $300 = $42
  • Total Tax Credit = Federal Tax Credit + Provincial Tax Credit (BC)

= $87 + $42

= $129

Selecting a Charitable Organization

1. Personal Values Alignment

Meaningful generosity requires choosing a charity that matches your ideals. Consider your hobbies, interests, and experiences to find your causes. Finding synergy in education, healthcare, environmental protection, social justice, or animal welfare makes your contribution meaningful and purposeful.

2. Organizational Missions, Programs, and Impact Research

  • Examine their missions, initiatives, and impact. 
  • Learn about their goals, strategies, programs, and projects on their websites. 
  • Check if their method is evidence-based and look for studies or testimonials showing its impact. 
  • Study the organization’s effectiveness and credibility to ensure your money is well-used.

3. Financial Transparency and Accountability

Accountability and transparency are essential to ethical nonprofit management. Review the organization’s annual reports and T3010 or IRS Form 990  to evaluate financial transparency. 

Find charities that prioritize program expenses over administrative or fundraising costs. When assessing their governance system, consider board qualifications, diversity, and independent audits or reviews. Find monitoring to prevent fraud and mismanagement.

4. Effective and Responsible Donation Use

  • Contributors want to know their money will help. 
  • Find nonprofits that appropriately use funds. 
  • This may require investing in evidence-based programs and interventions and regularly assessing results. 
  • Consider how transparent the company is about triumphs, issues, and improvement. 
  • You can trust that your donations make a difference by supporting accountable and impactful organizations.

Methods of Charitable Giving

These charitable giving techniques give contributors freedom in structuring their donations and provide tax benefits and income. 

Charitable Giving Option Description Key Features
Bequests A bequest in your will or living trust gives a charity a set amount of money, property, or a percentage of your estate.
  • Helps you assist causes you care about after you die.
  • Allows flexibility in donating amounts or assets.
Charitable Remainder Trusts This provides income to the donor or beneficiaries and donates the rest to charity.
  • Allows income tax deductions and capital gains tax avoidance on appreciated assets.
  • Provides lifetime income for donors or beneficiaries.
Donor-Advised Funds Donor-advised funds, managed by nonprofits, allow contributors to make donations and suggest grants to qualified charities.
  • Combining donations into one account simplifies charity giving.
  • Contributions may be tax-deductible immediately.
Charitable Gift Annuities Gift annuity is an official contract between the donor and a charity that promises lifelong fixed payments.
  • Provides donors with lifelong, potentially favourable income.
  • Income tax deductions and capital gains tax reductions are possible.

Steps In Setting Up a Charitable Trust

Identify Purposes

Setting specific goals helps create your charitable trust’s purpose and direction. You may care about education, healthcare, environmental conservation, social justice, or animal welfare. Set measurable targets for your effect. Set benchmarks to track your philanthropic progress and achievement for accountability and transparency.

Select the Trust Type

Understanding charitable trust is essential for choosing the best one for your charity. Some important factors are:

  • Researching trust structures. Consider charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), charitable lead trusts (CLTs), and pooled income funds. Know each structure’s advantages and disadvantages.
  • Assessing suitability. Assess how each trust arrangement fits your charity and financial goals. Consider income distribution, asset management, and tax consequences to find the greatest fit.

Trustee Selection

Trustees are essential to charitable trust management and functioning. Competency frameworks and behavioural assessments measure financial stewardship, fiduciary duties, and ethics. Thorough interviews and scenario-based simulations assess trustees’ strategic thinking, cultural fit, and organizational values.

Legal Document Drafting

The trust agreement requires careful legal preparation and compliance:

  • Work with lawyers. Working with estate planning lawyers who can construct complicated legal instruments using precedents and statutory frameworks ensures clarity and enforceability.
  • Ensure clarity and compliance. Use IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) to clearly state trust objectives, trustee powers, and termination contingencies.

Generate Funds for the Trust

Asset transfer requires methodical valuation, due diligence, and deal execution:

  • Identify transferable assets. Forensic accountants and valuation experts can audit asset liquidity, market volatility, and tax implications.
  • Complete transfer. Automate asset transfers with secure digital platforms and blockchain technology to reduce counterparty risk and comply with regulations.

Develop Guidelines for Distribution

Setting distribution guidelines involves financial planning and effect assessment expertise. Decision trees and scenario analysis create distribution frameworks with KPIs and effect measures to optimize resource allocation.  Dynamic stochastic modelling and machine learning algorithms can calibrate distribution rules in real time to reflect market conditions and philanthropic aims.

Guarantee Compliance

Regulatory compliance requires legal, financial, and technological skills. Use regulatory intelligence technologies and compliance dashboards to track tax, fiduciary, and reporting changes across jurisdictions. 

Work with tax attorneys, compliance officers, and data privacy specialists to create robust compliance frameworks that protect sensitive data using cloud-based compliance management tools and advanced encryption mechanisms.

Evaluating and Revising

Regular reviews and updates require organized risk management and performance evaluation:

  • Plan periodic reviews. Establish oversight committees and advisory boards for quarterly reviews, investment portfolio stress testing, and peer benchmarking.
  • Adjust as needed. Model alternative futures with decision support systems and scenario planning tools to enable strategic pivot points and iterative trust provision modifications in response to trends and regulatory changes.

How Will Attorney Can Help You

Often known as estate planning or probate lawyers, will attorneys are essential to charitable trust formation and execution.

Legal Expertise

Will attorneys assist clients with the estate administration process and charitable trust legalities and ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

Creating Trust

Help clients form charitable trust agreements and other estate documents. They guide clients through trust legislation to ensure their provisions match their wishes and meet legal obligations.

Customized Solutions

Customize advice to each client’s circumstances and philanthropic aims. They create personalized legal services based on the client’s finances, family, and charity goals.

Administration of Probate

Will attorneys help trustees and beneficiaries through the power of attorney and probate when a client dies. They also assist with attorney and representation agreements, trust administration, strategies to minimize probate fees, and the distribution of assets according to trust provisions and legal requirements.



Include Charities in Your Estate Plan Today

Contributing to charitable causes allows individuals to have a lasting impact on things they care about. When charity giving is part of estate planning, people can leave a lasting legacy that benefits society and improves the lives of others. Seek the advice of a will attorney if you wish to include charitable contributions in your estate plans. These lawyers help clients achieve their charity goals by navigating estate planning rules and regulations.


Frequently Asked Questions

After establishing an estate plan, is it possible to modify charitable donation preferences?

Yes, changing your mind about how much to leave to charity or your financial situation is a reasonable reason to revise your estate planning documents. Consult your attorney or counsellor to adjust your estate administration plan.

Can I add charitable giving provisions to my estate plan on my own?

While it is feasible to incorporate charitable giving provisions into your estate plan independently, seeking professional guidance is advisable

Estate Planning Lawyers

  • Estate planners with estate law expertise can advise on charitable trust legalities.
  • Estate planners help structure trusts to optimize tax benefits, minimize administrative costs, settle a representation agreement, and efficiently transfer assets to charity recipients.
  • They can also mediate issues with other family members, uphold the Patients Property Act, settle joint tenancy issues, and simplify more complicated wills.

Financial Advisors

  • Advisors specialize in investment management and planning.
  • They can help you examine your finances, find trust-funding assets, and create a philanthropic investing strategy.
  • They can optimize the trust’s asset allocation to provide charity income while protecting capital.

Tax Experts

  • Charity trusts have intricate tax ramifications that require tax professionals.
  • They can suggest tax-efficient trust funding methods like donating appreciated stocks or taking charitable deductions.

Are there any limits on the kinds of assets that can be donated to charity?

You can generally donate various assets to charity, including money, stocks, property, and personal possessions. Depending on the asset and charity policies, restrictions or tax ramifications may exist. Contact estate lawyers to understand the effects of donating certain assets.

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