Wills and Planned Giving

The passing of Prince Rogers Nelson (recording artist “Prince”) on April 21, 2016 and the subsequent declaration by his sister that he had no will has had me thinking about planned giving these past few weeks. That, coupled with the fact that this week (May 2-6) has been Will Week in Manitoba.  (Will Week is a collaboration between The Winnipeg Foundation, The Manitoba Bar Association and the Public Trustee of Manitoba; Will Week takes place annually and is a series of free public presentations on the importance of Wills and estate planning). A planned gift is often made from your assets or from your estate after your death.   These gifts are sometimes discussed with the charity the gift is being left to prior to the donor’s passing, but sometimes the charity learns about the gift afterwards.

The number of individuals who don’t have a will is staggering – according to Forbes.com 64% of Americans don’t have a will and according to CIBC in Canada nearly one third of those aged 45-64 don’t have one.  Let’s face it, this is a topic most of us don’t want to discuss.   And to be perfectly honest the main reason my husband and I even wrote our wills in the first place was because we wanted to be able to dictate where our children would go and what would happen to our estate in the event that we both pass away when they’re still minors.  We do have some charities in our wills but they weren’t at the forefront of our decision making processes. Granted, we are certainly not prime planned giving prospects.

Planned giving donors are typically over the age of 70 and have accumulated sufficient assets for retirement. Prior to discussing planned giving with your donors it is important to learn about both their financial and psychological situation in order to find a planned giving vehicle that will appeal to the donor.  There are many options, from small bequest commitments to large planned giving arrangements.

Whatever your prospect’s situation, it is important to start the conversation.  It is important for everyone to have wills, regardless of their age or financial situation, and non-profits can definitely play a role in encouraging their constituents to do so.