5 Common Myths that Get in the Way of Your Will Power

By Will Power

Young girl and great grandfather writing together

Your Will can be a powerful tool for creating change in the world. By leaving a gift to charity in your Will you can have a much bigger impact than you ever imagined. In fact, a gift in a Will can turn that ordinary Canadian into an extraordinary philanthropist! Unfortunately, only 5% of Canadians take this step. Why? There are 5 common myths that typically get in the way of people exercising their Will power. 

1. I can’t support both loved ones and my favourite causes.

Most people choose to leave everything they have to their family and loved ones. On the surface, it makes sense. However, a careful calculation can demonstrate that a small percentage of your estate left to charity still leaves enough for you to support your loved ones. You can see for yourself using our Legacy Calculator.  

Also, the reality is that your estate will be taxed, perhaps more than you realize. Choosing to support charities that you care about can reduce, and in some cases, even eliminate the taxes to be paid. A financial advisor can help make sense of this for your particular situation. If you don’t already have a financial advisor, you can find one here.

2. I need to be wealthy with a big estate to make a gift to charity in my Will.

The majority of charitable gifts in Wills are left by Canadians of average means. You may be surprised to find that when all of your assets are realized, you too will have a tidy sum for support of both loved ones and your favourite causes. 

We estimate that if only 3.5% more ordinary Canadians included a gift in their Will in the coming decade, this would result in $40 billion dollars being directed to charitable causes. No matter the size of your estate, you can be a part of this impressive movement for change. 

3. Leaving a gift in a Will is complicated.

Leaving a gift to charity in your estate can be as easy as adding a clause to your Will. Notify your lawyer, or notary if you live in Quebec, and they can take care of adding it in. In fact, there is an online intention form here that will get the process started quickly. 

We encourage you to involve your loved ones in your decision. Make the process about celebrating who you are, the values you hold, and the life you lead. We have some tips to make this a positive experience for everyone.

4. I’ve already written my Will and there is no going back.

The truth is you can amend your Will at any time. Adding a gift is as simple as letting your intentions be known to those who drafted your documents in the first place. If you don’t know who that is, you can use our Find Estate Lawyers or Notaries section. It’s as simple as that. 

5. I will never see the impact of the gift I make in my Will. 

It can be discouraging to think that you will not be around to see the impact of the gift you leave in your Will. We understand that you would rather do what you can now. Absolutely. However, you and many other Canadians will never be able to make as big a gift while you are alive as you can through your Will (when the value of your estate is realized). So, here are three ways you can see the impact your future gift will have — before you are gone.

  1. Many donors give smaller gifts to the causes they love when they’re alive. They become engaged with the charity or cause, so they get a feel for what the impact of their future gift will be.
  1. Many charities have established legacy societies to help donors get a sense of the impact their future gift will have. By letting charities know that you’ve included a gift to them in your Will, you’ll become a part of these groups that will show you the difference you will be making after you’re gone.
  1. Finally, a gift in a Will can help your family feel part of the impact you are making, as many charities involve the family in the implementation of the gift. Knowing your loved ones will remain connected with you through your contribution after you’re gone can be a very comforting experience.

If you found this article helpful, you can find more resources in our library.