Your will is one of the most important documents that you’ll create in your life. However, many believe that your will is something that you can “set and forget.” In this article, we look at whether this is really possible, and why it’s important to keep reviewing your will!
Set and Forget
It’s amazing how life changes - your kids will grow-up, your relationships with friends and family may change, and your financial situation can change at any time! Any change that can be related to something that is written in your will is worth considering. This is why, at Estate Connection, we’re not fans of a “set and forget” style of estate planning. We encourage our clients to review their wills every second year to make sure that if something should happen, your will is exactly how you want it!
The recent pandemic, and the WE Charity Scandal, has left many of our clients contacting us to talk about making changes to the beneficiaries in their will. People have lost trust with WE and other charities who partner with all levels of government. They’re worried about how their money is being used, given that many charities are entering into the realm of social enterprise to fund their charity. The problem is, to change the beneficiaries in your will, you need to sign a codicil, and many of our clients were not happy to learn this is what’s required during the middle of a pandemic!
So, what are your options?
Every year, more and more private foundations are created in Canada. So, what are the benefits of creating your own foundation? Well, registering and creating your own foundation provides a mechanism for controlling where your estate funds will be spent after you go. You can engage in choosing the goals of your foundation, desired outcomes, and it can be a satisfying way for you to use your skills!
Family foundations are a means of creating a valid cause for extended family members to rally around. It’s a positive and engaging way for a family to work together. As well, private foundations allow people to take risks about their charitable purposes. Grantmakers have the freedom to see a great idea, react quickly and prove the unproven!
Private foundations also provide a means for you to control how funds are invested. The majority of private foundations in Canada have less than 5 million dollars in investments and cost between $10,000 and $25,000 to create. However, these costs and the time involved in managing the foundation make this option outside the level of what many people can afford to do with their estate.
In Alberta, there are 6 community foundations that have been created to support the goals of the community they’re located in. The St. Albert and Edmonton Community Foundation are where most our clients choose to donate to. Community foundations provide a way for people to fund locally driven programming that addresses the issues in the local community, allowing them to have the greatest impact! These local community foundations allow communities to shift power to the people in the community who are volunteering and providing serves, supporting all facets of community life and providing a long-term charitable function to the community.
Community foundations work by permitting people to donate smaller sums of money and have it invested in a way that does not take up the donor’s time. They’re a good alternative for people who want to give back to your community. However, if you’re looking for a way to donate to a charitable purpose such as digging wells in Africa, the St. Albert community foundation will not be the right place for you. For those types of goals, you’ll need to find a global charity – here’s a useful list of global charities operating in and from Canada.
We recommend the Christian Stewardship Services who offer a unique way for clients to give funds to charity. For a small fee (1% of donated funds to a maximum of $10,000), the charity will direct your funds to any organization you choose under their donor advised funds. A major advantage to using a service like Christian Stewardship Services is that you can state that you’ll be donating funds to the Christian Stewardship Services in your will, and then in a separate document, you can provide the organization a list of the charities you want to receive your funds. What’s the major advantage of this? Well, you can change this list at any time! This means no codicil if you want to change where your funds go, eliminating the effort and fee of having to change your will itself – and meaning that there is a major area of your will that you really can “set and forget”. Going through Christian Stewardship Services also offers a level of confidentiality that you might not have otherwise in your will. Last year alone, they distributed 6 million dollars to Canadian charities!
These are just some of the many options that you have when you’re looking to provide to charities in your will. At Estate Connection, we understand that just as every person is unique, their wishes and desires for dealing with their estate is also unique. Contact Estate Connection today to find out more about your estate planning options, and let us help you leave your loved ones with solutions, not problems!