A lawyer’s perspective on leaving your legacy

08 June 2021

“The upside is so substantial. I’m not sure there is a downside.” 

Estate lawyer Doris Bonora, ‘86 LLB, encourages her clients to consider leaving gifts to charities in their Wills. She has seen an increase in people doing this, especially during the pandemic.

“People are thinking about their fate and wanting to leave something behind to say, “I was here.” 

“When I bring it up and talk about the tax benefits, it seems that a lot of clients take an interest in this.”

Most people have taxes to pay upon their death. “But if you can redirect these dollars from the government to a good cause, it makes so much sense.” 

Doris has a tip for everyone making a Will.

She has noticed that when people include charities in their Wills, it helps their survivors. “Children deal with their inheritance better. They don’t spend it all immediately. The philanthropy that they see in their parents makes them pause and evaluate what to do with their own inheritance. That’s another invaluable gift they leave to their children.”

And Doris has seen a different kind of giving during the pandemic. “There’s a genuine interest in the fact that we could develop vaccines so quickly. There’s a recognition that when you fund science, good things happen. I’ve seen an increased interest in gifts going to research and the scientists that make these breakthroughs possible.” 

“And there’s been more interest in supporting local non-profits because people want to make a difference in their community. I also see a lot of interest in giving to causes that tackle social injustice.”

When asked what she’d say to someone thinking about including a gift to a charity in their Will, Doris emphasizes, “The upside is so amazing. Everyone feels good. You leave your mark, you save on taxes, and you show your children the importance of supporting the community that helped you achieve a level of success.”

Doris also stresses to her clients the importance of having a Will. 

“It will guide and direct your family. Appointing an executor to be in charge will help reduce your loved ones’ stress at the time of your passing. In conjunction with a Will, you should have an enduring power of attorney to manage your finances if you fall ill. A second document you should have is a health care directive to appoint someone to manage your health care while you’re ill. This is very important, especially during a pandemic. Bottom line: you need someone to manage your finances and health care in the worst-case scenario.”

We want to thank Doris for her expert advice and hope you find it valuable.

Do you have any questions about leaving a gift to University of Alberta through your Will? We are here to help. Click here or contact Kathy Fitzgerald at 780-492-2616 or kathy.fitzgerald@ualberta.ca, Julian Solberg at 780-492-4811 or julian.solberg@ualberta.ca or Hilary Fabrizio at 780-996-7808 or hilary.fabrizio@ualberta.ca. 

Download this free estate planning document, courtesy of the U of A’s Planned Giving team.