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Deliberate Acts of Kindness: Organ Donation and Charitable Giving in Your Estate Plan

When it comes to estate planning, the potential to leave a lasting impact goes beyond benefiting your loved ones

A few months ago, I was on the receiving end of a stranger’s kind gesture. My day was brightened when my lunch companion and I were told that our meal had been paid by anonymous donors who were out in the neighbourhood spreading some kindness. It prompted me to think about how I could contribute – what should I do to Pay It Forward? Were there deliberate acts of kindness that I could pursue, either now or as a legacy?

Including provisions for organ donation and charitable giving in your estate plan allows you to extend your compassion and values beyond your lifetime.


Incorporating Wishes for Organ Donation

Organ donation is a profound act of kindness that can save lives and improve the well-being of those in need. It is a subject that I raise with each client during our estate planning discussions, to ensure that the option is considered and, if chosen, that the client’s wishes are discussed and/or documented with others to avoid confusion in the future. A couple of points about this:

  1. Clearly Express Your Intentions: Within your Representation Agreement or other planning documents, explicitly state your desire to be an organ donor. Keep in mind that the decision about whether you are a suitable candidate often needs to be made before you have passed, so putting these wishes in your Will may not help, if the Will is not found until well after you’ve passed.
  2. Discuss this with your Loved Ones: While your estate plan outlines your wishes, it’s equally important to communicate your intentions with your family, or any close friends who may be tasked with making the donation decision in the moment. This helps prevent any potential confusion or misunderstandings and gives them some relief that they are simply following the choices you’d make if you could voice those choices yourself.

Reminder: if you think you’ve signed up as an organ donor with a sticker on your driver’s licence… nope, that won’t work. That sticker system is no longer in operation in BC. You need to be registered. Luckily, it’s a very simple process – just go to the BC Transplant website. You’ll just need your Personal Health Number to register.


Charitable Giving in Your Estate Plan

Charitable giving is a powerful way to leave a legacy and support causes close to your heart. Before you include charities in your estate plan, there are practical and legal considerations:

  1. Choose Your Charities: Identify the charitable organizations you’d like to support. Consider causes that align with your values and have a meaningful impact. Check out their website to learn more about them. Contact them and have a discussion (they love to hear from potential benefactors!)
  2. Specific Language: Ensure that your Will has the necessary language to accurately convey your charitable wishes. Your legal advisor can draft the appropriate clauses.
  3. Designate Assets: Decide which specific assets you’d like to donate to charity. This could include cash, securities, real estate, or personal property. Or provide the charity with a percentage of your estate.
  4. Charitable Registration: Verify that the chosen charity is a registered organization with charitable status. This ensures that the donation qualifies for tax benefits. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a website where you can look these up.
  5. Tax Implications: Charitable donations may have tax benefits for your estate. Consult a tax professional to understand the potential tax advantages and implications.
  6. Executor’s Role: Your executor plays a vital role in ensuring your charitable wishes are fulfilled. Choose someone you trust to manage the donation process efficiently.


Helping You Leave a Legacy

At Ratcliff LLP, we understand the significance of deliberate acts of kindness within your estate plan. Our experienced legal team is well-versed in estate planning in British Columbia, and we’re here to guide you through the process of incorporating organ donation and charitable giving into your estate plan. Let us help you create a legacy that reflects your values and positively impacts the causes you care about.

Contact us today to learn more about our estate planning services.


* This information is for general illustration only and is not legal advice.

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Key Contacts
Lesley Midzain - Estates Lawyer