What is your legacy?

The New Oxford English Dictionary defines a legacy as an amount of money left in a will. However, the modern use of the term is much broader and carries more significance. In today’s language, a person’s legacy refers to the impression they will leave on the world after their death. That is, how they will be remembered, especially by those who knew and loved them.

Jennifer Leach Sandford, Associate at Horne Coupar LLP

Jennifer Leach Sandford, Associate at Horne Coupar LLP

Therefore, a legacy is a far more meaningful concept than a simple financial gift. The estate planning process allows clients to reflect on the parts of their life of which they are most proud, on which they place the most value, and for which they want their loved ones to remember them. As estate planners, we have the opportunity to help clients think about their legacy in this broader sense.

One important way that clients can ensure that they make a lasting impact after their death is by including charitable gifts in their will. Where clients do not have a particular charity in mind, we can work with them to explore their interests and passions with a view to identifying the appropriate charitable organizations to receive their testamentary gifts. Estate planners may also connect clients with umbrella community foundations, such as the Victoria Foundation, which support numerous different charitable organizations. Working with a foundation such as this can help clients to structure and direct their gifts in order to maximize the benefit for the intended charitable purpose.

Kids walking through forestIn the right context, clients may also involve their family members and other loved ones in their testamentary plans for charitable giving. In so doing, clients can help their families to understand the significance of these gifts while providing their families with a meaningful way by which to remember their loved one. For example, a testamentary gift to an endowment fund that provides scholarships for needy students, or grants for work in medical research can provide grieving families a way to be involved for years to come in a cause that was important to their loved one.

An unwelcome, but unavoidable, element of death and estate planning involves income taxes. However, a well-structured charitable gift can help to reduce the effect of the income taxes that are triggered by death. Estate planners work with tax planners and registered charities to ensure that testamentary gifts have the intended impact in a client’s overall estate plan.

There are many ways to make an estate plan and, as long as you are capable, it is not too late to plan to leave a lasting legacy. We invite you to talk to your advisors and the professionals at the Victoria Foundation about how you would like to leave your mark.


By Jennifer Leach Sandford is an associate at Horne Coupar LLP