Family Can Still Come First: Leaving a Charity in Your Will

When people start writing a will, they usually have one main goal: to ensure that family members and loved ones are taken care of. This is frequently the main barrier that prevents people from leaving a legacy gift to charity in their wills, because they are concerned that it will take resources away from family.

But it does not have to be an either/or situation, especially with the right tools and resources. Family can still come first and you can also support the causes that mean the most to you.

Below, Toronto Foundation bequest donors Beverley Burke, Paul Butler, Emma Lewzey and Ingrid Randoja explain how they were able to find that balance, how Toronto Foundation supported them throughout the process and how they hope their legacy gift inspires others.


How did you find the balance between looking after loved ones and the causes that you care about?

Ingrid: I think there’s a misconception that you can't do both. You can and that's what we're doing. There are provisions in our wills for family and charities. Our family is very supportive.

Emma: First we made specific gifts in our wills to family. The rest of our estate will go into a fund for charity, because Toronto Foundation helped us do both. It’s not an either/or question.

Beverley: My three children know that I'm a big supporter of Toronto Foundation. They know that I have left money in my will to charities through the Foundation. I'm directing a portion of my estate to legacy gifting, but my kids will still be well supported.


How did Toronto Foundation help you set up a legacy gift?

Beverley: Toronto Foundation made creating a bequest fund very easy. A legacy gift can include a life insurance policy or RRSP or a gift in your will, and none of the options compromise what you’re leaving for loved ones.

Paul: Toronto Foundation made it all so wonderfully easy. By talking with the Foundation and our lawyer, we were given the important questions to think about. Over a couple of coffees we figured it all out. Because there’s so much flexibility with our bequest agreement with Toronto Foundation, we are able to have different plans and update them as often as necessary. For example, if our mothers pass and we are still alive, we have a plan that will adjust for that.

Some helpful and relevant tools:

A legacy calculator by Will Power

Finding a financial advisor

How do you hope your legacy will inspire others?

Emma: If somebody's thinking about what difference they can make now and when they’re gone, I hope they see that including a gift in your will is a simple way to do it. And it's such an interesting and gratifying process if you let it be, because it gives you the opportunity to consider: what are my values, what do I want to leave behind and what is actually important to me now and in the future?

Beverley: When you have enough yourself and you're able to be generous with your children, then why not use the rest to help others? I believe it's a wonderful lesson to my children that I hope will get them to think about giving back to others as well. I hope it inspires them.


Together we'll customize your legacy gift to the charitable sector.  Learn more about our bequest program here or connect now with director, growth strategy Nicola Hives.