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By Anita Nielsen, Senior Director, Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation

Many charities have invested time and resources in building expertise in estate planning.  You may be pleasantly surprised to discover helpful, impartial answers, without any pressure to give.

Like many of my colleagues in the charitable sector, I have fielded numerous calls from potential donors who are hesitant to ask the hard questions about estate planning, and are reluctant to share their personal circumstances with someone they have never met.  Many people find this experience uncomfortable.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Let me take this opportunity to reassure you, we are here to help.  Whether you are simply looking for more information, or are in the process of drafting your Will, estate giving professionals have your best interests at heart and will endeavor to answer your questions sensitively and accurately, while maintaining discretion and confidentiality.

A good place to start is a visit to the charity’s website.  Most of the information you are seeking can be found online such as the charity’s legal name; charitable registration number; and suggested wording for your Will. You can also learn about different giving options and their associated tax benefits, (e.g. gifts of securities, life insurance or RRIFs), and the language and terms used in estate planning.

One of the most common concerns I hear is, “How will the charity use my money?  I will be gone…what are the guarantees?” We will provide tailored Will wording to meet your goals and wishes – no matter how complicated they may seem.  Charities are accountable for every dollar they spend and distribute, and are governed by a Board of Directors.  Every effort is made to match the donor’s final wishes as closely as possible.  This decision is not taken lightly by staff or the Board.

Potential tax savings is another common theme.  It is no secret that the largest tax bill you will ever likely pay is in the year that you pass.  Many people ask:  “What is the most tax effective way for me to give?”  The answer to this question is different for everyone.  At Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, we offer a variety of seminars to the general public. A very popular topic is Income Tax Reduction and Estate Tax Elimination.

While seminars are a tremendous way to become better educated, we do recommend that you to speak with a lawyer, financial advisor or other allied professional to build and tailor a plan that maximizes your tax savings and fulfills your charitable wishes.
And finally, we often hear concerns about the amount of an estate gift.  “I don’t have much to give”, or, ”I am not comfortable sharing how much I am leaving” are frequent statements. Please know that no legacy gift is too small! It is not necessary to disclose the amount and anonymity is always an option. We understand that Wills can be changed at any time and that wealth changes over the course of a lifetime.

The role of the estate professional is a rewarding one.  Please utilize our knowledge and access our resources. Remember – we are here to help!

The next Income Tax Reduction and Estate Tax Elimination Seminars are taking place Wednesday, October 1st at 1:30pm and 6:00pm at Toronto Western Hospital. Seats are complimentary but limited. For more information or to RSVP please click here or contact Laurie Fox at 416-603-6406 or at [email protected]

For more information on creating a lasting legacy, please visit,