Estate planning and philanthropy

There is no question that one of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones is to make sure your Will and estate are in order.

Michelle Millard, ‘94 LLB, of Felesky Flynn LLP, Estate Lawyer - 21 January 2022

There is no question that one of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones is to make sure your Will and estate are in order. It doesn't matter how old you are or your health status; unforeseen events can happen. If you don't have a Will, it can cause problems and a lot of stress for your family. Without a Will, the government will dictate who the beneficiaries are. As a lawyer, I've seen heartbreaking situations cause great strife for surviving family members when someone has passed without an estate plan. 

That’s why I firmly believe that having an up-to-date Will is a must. And it’s prudent to review it every three to four years to make sure it still makes sense for your circumstances.

When you make your Will, you want to make sure you take care of your loved ones and friends and distribute your assets fairly. Many people will also decide to leave gifts in their Will to the non-profit organizations that they care about. Organizations that reflect their deepest values. 

I take great pride in helping people plan their estates so that they can take care of their loved ones and leave a gift to a charitable organization when possible. Some clients choose a charity that has benefited their lives personally. Some people realize they have been given privileges that others don’t have so they want to give back. And some clients want to give towards a specific project, to see a certain result.

I would highly recommend to anyone considering leaving a gift to the University of Alberta to make sure that you have a conversation with them. Tell them that you are considering leaving a bequest because that way they can respect and fulfill your wishes.

For example, at the University of Alberta, there are many places to allocate a gift in your Will, so it's ideal to have a conversation about how your gift could have the greatest impact. This guarantees that what you care about most comes to fruition. 

For many of these estate gifts, your family members can be involved and help make decisions in future years. That way, they can feel connected to the impact of your gift down the road. It also keeps the memory of you close to their hearts. Your generosity. Your values. 

And as you may know, there are tax benefits to your estate when you leave a gift in your Will. With a charitable gift on death, you get a tax credit for the charitable gift that has been made. The tax credit is used to offset the tax that is due upon death. So in turn you can direct what would be taxes towards a charity. Your lawyer or financial advisor can help you with this. 

And, of course, the University of Alberta's Planned Giving team can help you as well. Please feel free to reach out to Kathy Fitzgerald at 780-492-2616 or or Hilary Fabrizio at 780-996-7808 or hilary.fabrizio@ualberta.caThey are available to help and answer any questions you have about supporting the U of A through a gift in your will.