Leaving a legacy made easy

  • October 29, 2006

A legacy is a powerful idea, a way to project the values, hopes and ideals a person has struggled for in this life out into the future, beyond their own life span.

Financially, it’s a powerful idea which has until recently been reserved only for the very wealthy. Setting up a private foundation is simply not for those whose Toyotas know the way to Wal-Mart without human instruction.

The legal fees it takes to set up such a fund could amount to $15,000 to $20,000, and the process of registering the fund with Canada Revenue might take nine or 10 months.

“You normally need about $1 million to make it worth paying all of the legal fees and accounting fees, etc., to set something like that up,” TD Waterhouse Inc. vice president of philanthropic advisory services Jo-Anne Ryan told The Catholic Register.

TD Waterhouse has an alternative for those who don’t have quite that much money to put into a charitable trust. If you have between $10,000 and $1 million to dedicate to a legacy, the financial services company can offer participation in the Private Giving Foundation .

“This is for people who want to make a legacy of giving, who want to build an endowment fund,” said Ryan. “And endowment funds are extremely important now because charities historically used to get money from the government every year... Government funding has been slashed.”

The Private Giving Foundation has built up to $41 million in the last two years. In that period the foundation has given out $1.5 million to charity.

The contributors to the fund have the same ability as wealthy individuals with their own trust funds to direct payouts from their contribution to the charity of their choice. They also realize the same tax advantages.

For many donors, the ability to change the recipients of payouts from the foundation from year to year is attractive, said Ryan.

“They don’t know from one year to the next what’s going to impact them. It could be an earthquake or a hurricane. It could be a disease that has affected a family member,” she said. “They want that flexibility to make those choices.”

Some charities that have been named by Private Giving Foundation contributors didn’t even exist when the contribution was first made. Hurricane Katrina survivors were helped by money from the Private Giving Foundation.

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