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Estate Planning

Leaving a Legacy, Transforming this World

October 07, 2010

The Bible has much to say about money; some concepts are storing up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21) and using our God-given talents to further His kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30).  Discerning God’s will can be difficult.  One thing for certain is that whether we have much or very little, everything we have is a gift from God.  One way to invest in the future of God’s church and kingdom is to have a carefully considered estate (what we own less what we owe upon death) plan which may include providing for charities in your will.

Some concepts:
1. Give while living – if you have been blessed with abundant resources and realize that you have more than enough money to meet your financial needs until the end of your earthly life, you could consider giving money to your children or charities now when they could benefit from it. Examples are providing monetary gifts to help your children buy a home, helping fund Christian education for your grandchildren or contributing in a larger way to your school or church building project.
2. Naming charities in your will – please take a moment to reflect on this statement “The life you leave should reflect the life you lived”.  You may have always given by way of time, treasures and talents to causes that you believe in; why not do so when you pass away?  One concept is naming a child named ‘charity’ in your will.  Rather than dividing up your estate by the number of children you have, consider dividing up your estate by the number of children you have + one additional child known as ‘charity’.  So if you have 5 children, you would actually divide your estate by 6 with the sixth ‘child’ being the charities you would like to support.  Alternatively, you could consider a 10% tithe of your estate to charities or depending on the circumstances, a much larger portion.  You could designate that the charities use the funds for a specific purpose or let the charity decide.
3. Giving money to charity to offset the tax liability due to:
a) capital gains on rental properties, securities, business assets, etc. or b) registered assets such as RRSPs and RRIFs. Upon death, your assets (things you own) are deemed to be sold.  This can result in significant income taxes being due and paid out of your estate proceeds. By donating to charities in your will you could reduce or eliminate the taxes due. Alberta residents benefit from the highest charitable tax credit in Canada of 50% which more than offsets the top marginal tax rate of 39%.  You may also want to consider this strategy while living to offset the tax liability when selling a) or b) above.
Giving to charities now and in your will may help transform this world. The charitable tax credit provides added incentive.

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