Showing Gratitude with a Legacy Gift

Jessica and her husband standing next to farm equipment

The following article was written by Jessica M. Durka, a member of our Gift Planning Services Committee


Have you ever thought about how you could make the biggest impact with your giving to Hamilton Health Science Foundation? Do you think about how you would like to make advancements possible for a specific area, like research for cancer or heart disease, but you are not really sure if this is something you can accomplish? There are so many questions when it comes to donating – and so many options. The Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation’s volunteer Gift Planning Committee has a number of expert finance and philanthropy professionals that can guide you along while making these important decisions; we are always here to help!

Three years ago, I was blessed with the news that my Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma went into remission after receiving excellent care at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. My husband and I wanted to give back and so we started an event fundraiser which continues to raise funds each year to this day. This is something we are enormously proud of, however, we knew we had to do more to make an even bigger impact. We decided to investigate our options of leaving a planned gift in our will. This is our story of how we approached the process of making a legacy gift.

An Investment Advisor can offer options and tips for your financial situation. Next, a conversation with the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Planned Giving Team followed by a meeting with a lawyer are key to getting a planned gift arranged in a way that will ensure your wishes are setup properly and followed.

As an Investment Advisor I was aware of the idea and the planning needed. We then spoke with Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation and were informed we could donate to a hospital program of our choice. Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation also provided us with will clausing for us to take to our lawyer. We were thrilled to know we could leave a direct donation to Juravinski Cancer Centre. A direct donation is an immediate gift that the Cancer Centre could use upon our death and the execution of our will. Another option is to endow your legacy gift which means that Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation invests the gift and then disperses the annual income from the investments into the program you choose. When you leave an endowment, your family or friends can add to this investment and create an even larger principal amount, thus making more impact on your chosen hospital program. Having theses options and deciding how you want to leave your legacy is your own personal choice.

My husband and I knew exactly how we wanted to disperse our funds but our next challenge was how to ensure we had it set up in our will properly. Meeting with a lawyer was the next step. The lawyer drafts the legal clause to ensure proper instructions are in your will. Right now, while Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation is partnering with the Canadian Free Wills Network, donors have the option of using one of the participating lawyers and having a will done free of charge.  Yes, you read that right – FREE!

One of our concerns initially was how this affects our estate. Each planned giving option has its own benefits. You can receive tax credits, possibly minimize probate fees, or minimize your payable taxes. The most common way is to do a cash donation. This can be a specific amount you want to designate or a percentage of your will. Another way is to leave a percentage. You can also choose to gift an asset or an investment security. You can name Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation as a beneficiary of your RRSP / RRIF or even your life insurance policies. Each option has its own efficiencies and tax saving benefits. When you meet with your Investment Advisor, initially, ensure you are receiving your biggest benefits of tax savings and creating the most efficient donation.

Planning to leave a gift can be exciting and fulfilling! You do not have to wait to start planning for this. You can do this in your 30s and 40s or whenever you write your first will. These planned gifts can be changed and amended as often as you wish. The terms of the will do not come into effect until you pass. Planning sooner would allow you to have your wishes in place in case of an unforeseen event in your life. Just remember, you can always change these wishes as life may change for you and what your priorities in your will would be in the future.

Things to Remember:

  • You can designate your donation to a specific Hamilton Health Sciences hospital or program of your choice.
  • You can choose a project or specific area to designate your planned gift.
  • There is guidance from our gift planning committee and members of the Foundation if you have any questions or concerns.
  • There are several ways to donate in your will. We encourage you too sit down with an Investment Advisor to ensure you are creating the most efficient donation.
  • Your planned gift in your will can be amended, changed or updated as long as you are able to update your will.

Your planned gift is a legacy that will help change the face of health care.  Small or large you can help make a difference!

Head shot of Jessica Durka

Jessica M. Durka
Associate Investment Advisor
BMO Wealth Management
BMO Nesbitt Burns