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A heart-shaped rock creating ripples as philanthropy does.

Leaving a Charitable Legacy, Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt

Written for Philanthropists

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, was born in 1882 and died in 1945 at 63 from a cerebral hemorrhage. This insightful quote from his inaugural address in 1937 highlights the importance of cultivating peace and goodwill in our own lives and communities before trying to spread it further afield.

Similarly, Roosevelt’s quote reminds us that leaving a meaningful philanthropic legacy starts at home. As we care for our loved ones through estate planning, we can also look for opportunities to support the causes and organizations that have touched our lives. With thoughtful planning, Canadians have enough wealth to provide for family and give back to their communities.

Charity Begins at Home

For many Canadians, charitable giving starts with organizations they interact with regularly. This can include places of worship, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and environmental groups in our neighbourhoods. We know these charities make a local difference because we see it directly.

Naming local charitable organizations in our estate plan is an easy way to give back. These groups rely on donations to continue serving communities. Bequests in Wills provide ongoing funding that brings lasting benefits close to home.

Supporting National and Global Causes

Along with local groups, many support charitable organizations making a national or global impact. Well-known nonprofits like United Way, Canadian Cancer Society and UNICEF allow us to be part of broad efforts for change.

Researching these well-established charities gives us confidence that our gifts will be used effectively. Larger charitable organizations have the frameworks in place to put donations to work. They use estate gifts to further their missions and spread charitable ripples beyond our communities.

Family Comes First in Estate Planning

While charitable giving is essential, most Canadians rightly prioritize family when planning their legacy. Your estate plan ensures your loved ones are provided for according to your wishes. 

As you map out your estate plan, we help you determine what resources your family will need to maintain their lifestyle. Look at assets, debts, income sources and expenses. Project future costs for a spouse, dependent children or other relatives relying on your support.

During estate planning, we help you see:

  • What resources your family would need to sustain their lifestyles.
  • Your assets, debts, income streams, and expenses.
  • Your future financial requirements for your spouse, dependent children, or other relatives who depend on your support.

With your family obligations addressed, you can assess what assets remain available to direct toward charitable causes you care about. This helps strike the right balance between family and philanthropy in your estate plan.

Tax-Effective Ways to Give

There are several tax-smart ways to structure charitable gifts to maximize benefits for your selected causes and your estate. Options include:

  • Bequest in your Will – Simple to arrange, and estate tax credit can offset taxes owing
  • RRSP/RRIF beneficiary – Tax receipt offsets taxes on registered funds
  • Donating life insurance – Tax receipt for your premiums
  • Setting up a foundation – Create an ongoing legacy of grant-making
  • Donor-advised fund – Flexible way to manage charitable giving

With good planning, you can enhance the impact of your estate gifts. The tax system encourages Canadians to give generously by offsetting taxes owing on their estate.

Life Insurance Magnifies Your Legacy

Another option to amplify charitable giving is using life insurance. Life insurance proceeds pass outside of probate, ensuring efficient transfer to your named beneficiaries.

You can designate a charity as owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Premiums paid qualify as charitable donations annually. When the policy matures, your small, predictable payments transform into a significant lump-sum gift.

Alternatively, life insurance can replace assets going to charity. For example, you may wish to give $500,000 to a cause but want to maintain your family’s inheritance. Taking out a $500,000 life insurance policy with the charity as a beneficiary fulfills your philanthropic goals without eroding your estate.

Create a Lasting Legacy

Franklin D. Roosevelt led America through profound challenges like the Great Depression and the Second World War. These experiences shaped his global outlook and commitment to peace. His desire to build a better world started with community renewal and social support at home.

Like Roosevelt, we can leave an impact beyond our own lives. When organized effectively, our estate can provide for family while also giving back. You can create a lasting legacy of care and generosity close to home and worldwide. 


For personalized advice on leaving a charitable legacy through your estate, contact your team at Taxevity. We are happy to provide a free consultation to explore your philanthropic goals. With sound planning, you can take care of your family and support the charitable causes you care about for generations.

Learn how the Will Power campaign helps you include a gift to charity in your Will and about the pros and cons of donating life insurance.

Tags: quotations, will power