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Legacy Circle thanks donors in advance for gift

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  • November 6, 2021

The Legacy Circle is not an exclusive club, or at least it shouldn’t be. All ShareLife executive director Arthur Peters had to do to get in was write his parish and ShareLife into his Will, then inform the archdiocese.

Peters doesn’t have a fortune to leave. But he wants part of his estate to help out his parish and all the institutions and services the Archdiocese of Toronto supports through ShareLife.

“I’ve been a member of my parish since it opened in 1976. I was the first altar boy,” Peters said.

For Peters, that relationship with the parish is one of the most important in his life. It seemed natural to write the parish into his Will. Given his professional life in fundraising for the Church, however, Peters is not surprised that only five per cent of Canadians leave anything to charity.

“People just don’t think of it,” he said.

The Legacy Circle is simply a way of helping people to think of it. Members of the circle are thanked in their lifetime for the gift they give to the Church after they die. Unfortunately, most gifts to the Church from the estates of Catholics remain unknown until after the person dies, robbing the Church of the opportunity to say thank you, Peters said.

Giving a small part of your estate to charity doesn’t translate into neglecting your family or close friends in your Will, Peters said.

“Of course you want to take care of your loved ones, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give to charity as well,” Peters said.

The tax offsets by way of giving to charity can have the effect of increasing the net value of any estate, Peters points out.

If an estate includes stocks and bonds, Peters is always careful to point out the importance of specifying in the Will that the securities themselves are to be given to the charity. If that isn’t written down in the Will, there’s a good chance the shares will be sold and converted into cash. The cash will be taxed and the charity will only receive the after-tax amount. When a charity receives securities themselves, it decides when to sell and it doesn’t pay taxes.

Peters sees no reason for people to shy away from laying out their charitable intentions in their Will.

“Sure, what’s in your Will is not dinner time conversation, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t give money in their Will,” he said.

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