Today’s blog was written by Yvonne Mazurak, Associate at Fasken LLP
Hi AAEB community! This is not my first time contributing to the blog, however, it is my first time writing as a newly licensed lawyer and I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself.
I would like to say that it was my plan all along to end up here, with Fasken’s Private Client Services group, but that’s far from reality. Instead, my career trajectory has been largely non-linear, having started in Uganda where I worked as a grant writer for a biofuel initiative. Ultimately, after several years and a few detours, my work in Uganda lead me to WE Charity, where I most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Co-founder. At WE Charity, I experienced some of the most challenging moments of my career so far, but also some of the most rewarding (certainly, spending Christmases in Kenya while contributing to a cause I feel deeply about was a perk of the job).
Though I have since moved onto my new career in law, charitable work, and in turn charitable giving, is still something I care about. Among Canadians, I am not alone. Earlier this year, Statistics Canada released their Charitable Donors, 2019 report which notes that “[t]otal donations claimed on tax returns rose for a third consecutive year, up 3.6% from a year earlier to $10.3 billion in 2019.”
Many Canadians plan to make their largest charitable gifts in their Wills. Given the connection to my former life in the charitable sector, I thought I would take this opportunity share a few simple, yet important, reminders in respect to such gifts:
- Use the proper legal name – Though it may sound obvious, the use of an incorrect name is a frequent, albeit easily avoided, issue. The intended charity’s name might resemble that of another, or it might have multiple branches/chapters. Also, consider including other identifying characteristics, such as a registered charity number.
- Provide a backup plan – Most major charities might be household names today, however, some could nevertheless one day cease to exist. While the court has inherent jurisdiction–under the cy-près doctrine–to direct funds intended for a charity that no longer exists at the time of the testator’s death to another charitable purpose within the settlor’s general intention, the need for such an order could be avoided with a “gift over” provision.
- Consider non-cash gifts – A charitable gift can take many forms other than cash, such as shares, life insurance, RRSP or RRIF proceeds. Charitable gifts of certain assets are given favourable tax treatment, such as gifts of shares in specified publicly-traded companies for which, subject to certain conditions, the inclusion rate of any realized capital gain is reduced to zero.
Thanks for reading and “see” you again soon.