How to leave a legacy

Canadians give for different reasons and in different ways. For some it is a way to ensure their memory lives on; for many it’s a way to ensure that their favourite charity is able to continue its important work, while for others it represents a way to ease the tax implications that come with the transfer of their estate to surviving relatives.

A bequest is a gift you make through your Will, to support a cause that’s important to you.

A properly prepared Will provides you with the security of knowing that your possessions and estate will be distributed in line with your personal values and wishes.

When planning your Will, it's important to decide your personal goals and the needs of your beneficiaries. With the help of an advisor, you can include language in your Will specifying what gifts are to be made to family members, friends or the Foundation as part of your estate plan.

Your bequest options

Charitable bequests can take many forms and often consist of cash, real property and/or securities like stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Learn more about how to donate securities.

Specific/legacy bequests designate an exact dollar amount, percentage or particular asset, such as the stock of a certain company, to be donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Residual bequests name the Heart and Stroke Foundation as the beneficiary of all, or a percentage of your estate after all debts, taxes, administrative expenses and specific/legacy bequests have been paid. Because this type of gift leaves a percentage rather than a fixed amount to the Foundation, inflation will not reduce the value of your gift.

Contingent bequests take effect when you name the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada as an  alternate beneficiary. Your gift is given to the Foundation only if other beneficiaries in your Will pass away before your passing.

Your legal advisor can help you prepare a Will that addresses your individual wishes and requirements.

Other legacy gifts

Gift of retirement savings plans (RRSPs or RRIFs)

Making a gift of your retirement plan savings — RRSPs (registered retirement savings plans) or RRIFs (registered retirement income funds) — can reduce the taxes on your estate and protect its value for your heirs. It also enables you to make a significant impact on the life-saving work of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

If you are not survived by a spouse and you have no dependent children or have already made arrangements for your dependent children, leftover retirement funds can make an excellent charitable gift because the resulting tax credit will help to make up for the taxes otherwise payable on the transfer or distribution.

Gift of life insurance

A gift of life insurance allows you to make a significant donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation at a relatively low cost while protecting the value of your estate for your heirs and possibly saving on taxes.

Option 1: Name Heart & Stroke as the beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy. Your estate will receive a tax receipt for the proceeds of the policy.

Option 2: Purchase a new policy with Heart & Stroke named as the owner and beneficiary. You will receive annual tax receipts for the premium payments.

Option 3: Transfer ownership of a paid-up policy, with Heart & Stroke named as beneficiary. You will receive a tax receipt for the current value (known as the “fair market value”).

Option 4: Transfer ownership of a partially paid-up policy, with Heart & Stroke named as owner and beneficiary. You will receive a tax receipt for the fair market value of the policy and annual tax receipts for the ongoing premium payments.

Charitable gift annuities

A charitable gift annuity (CGA) offers you a way to increase your income, reduce your taxes and make a substantial gift to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in support of innovative, ground-breaking research. CGAs deliver both a gift to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and a guaranteed income for life to you as a donor.

The annuity rate (your guaranteed income) will be based on the age of each beneficiary, but will often be higher than the investment return you would have otherwise received on the donated assets. In addition, a significant portion of your annuity income payments — and in some cases 100 per cent — will be payable to you, tax-free.

Gifts of property

A gift of property, also called a "gift-in-kind," refers to donations of such tangible assets as real estate, special collections, cultural property and works of art.

A gift of property may be kept and used by the Heart and Stroke Foundation or it may be sold. The donation receipt is issued for the fair market value of the donated property as determined by appraisal. Please note that these gifts require Heart and Stroke Foundation approval in advance of acceptance.

Gifts of charitable remainder trusts

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is a deferred giving arrangement under which you would transfer property (cash, appreciated securities, or real estate) to a trustee. You (and/or other beneficiaries) would retain the right to the income from the trust either for life or a specified term of years. The Heart and Stroke Foundation will receive whatever remains in the trust after that specified term or after the death of the last beneficiary, whichever has been agreed to in the trust document.

Donors who establish a CRT will receive a generous donation receipt today for the present value of their gift (the “charitable remainder”) which the Foundation will receive when the trust terminates.


Talk to us about creating your legacy
Fact sheet on charitable bequests (PDF)
Official bequest language (PDF) 
Fact sheet on gifts of retirement savings plans (PDF)
Fact sheet on gifts of life insurance (PDF) 
Fact sheet on charitable gift annuities (PDF) 
Fact sheet on gifts of property (PDF)
Fact sheet on charitable remainder trusts (PDF) 

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