A statue of the Blessed Virgin greets visitors to St. Mary’s Parish in Barrie, Ont. Photo courtesy St. Mary’s Parish

It’s a win-win situation with gift of insurance

By  Nerisssa Flores, Catholic Register Special
  • November 2, 2019

Bill Olynyk often wondered how he could further support his parish, St. Mary’s in Barrie, Ont. 

A former TTC/Gray Coach supervisor, he got involved in parish activities after his retirement in 1982 and more so after his wife died in 1998. 

He would travel south in the winter, but each spring he came back to Barrie and would be at his parish to help out. He was well-known to the parish staff and would regularly bake cookies for them. Together they chatted about the challenges and needs of the parish.

Olynyk wished he could give more to his parish than what was possible, given his limited retirement income. One day, Olynyk was introduced by a neighbour to someone who talked to him about the possibility of making a gift of life insurance to St. Mary’s.  He learned that purchasing a policy would enable him to provide a much larger gift than his financial resources would otherwise allow and that the gift amount would be bigger than he could possibly leave to the parish in his Will. 

The best thing was it wouldn’t cost him much and would also enable him to claim a tax deduction for his annual premium payments. Olynyk enthusiastically embraced the idea and decided to take out a $10,000 life insurance policy which was payable over 10 years to benefit St. Mary’s Parish. He said, “I pay $660 a year and I am giving $10,000 to the Church; that’s more than I could otherwise give.” 

Life insurance is indeed a giving option that can benefit a donor, his or her family and their favourite charities. With a life insurance policy, a donor can commit to the gift by designating the Church or other charitable organization as the beneficiary of the policy. 

The life insurance proceeds are usually much bigger than the value of the premiums paid. Also, a gift of a life insurance policy can reduce estate taxes. The donor decides whether to make the charity the (1) designated owner and beneficiary of the policy or (2) to be the owner and designate the charity as the beneficiary. 

Either way, these options should be considered carefully as the tax implications differ. The donor could also choose between gifting an old policy to the charity, buying a new one for the charity or just changing a policy beneficiary to a charity. 

Olynyk bought his insurance policy in 1993. Nineteen years later, when he peacefully passed in 2012, the insurance company contacted St. Mary’s Parish and informed them of this legacy from him. St. Mary’s was able to use the funds they received to provide much-needed funding for some parish projects and programs for the faith community — a most fitting way to remember a man who often said that his gift was small compared to the many blessings he has received in his life.

(Nerissa Flores, the Regional Marketing Manager for EWTN Canada, is the former Manager, Planned Giving and Personal Gifts for the Archdiocese of Toronto.)

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