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Leaving a legacy and saving taxes: win-win!


January 1, 2014

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In this monthly column, Brenda Hiscock endeavours to put a positive spin on personal finance by empowering readers with practical tips and good news from the financial world.

With the recent ice storm, I was struck by the outpouring of generosity. People were offering their homes, their showers, their food and their electricity to those without. We feel better when we give, and in a crisis, time and time again, human qualities such as kindness, compassion and generosity shine through.

Charitable giving is becoming more and more popular. I am absolutely thrilled about this, as research has changed the outcomes for so many of us who have survived cancer. Much of this research is made possible by the generosity of Canadians.

All of us want to pay less money in taxes, and the government has made charitable giving quite attractive when it comes to tax savings. Since March 2013 there has been an additional credit available for first-time donors. For information about charitable giving, click on the following link to find out the how the tax credit works, eligible charities, etc.:

Did you know that you can donate your life insurance policy to charity? This is becoming a very popular way for people to leave a legacy. There are two ways it can be done:

1) Buy the policy, assign it to the charity and name the charity as the beneficiary (meaning that the charity owns the policy, and the policy is on your life). All premiums that you pay towards the policy will qualify as a tax deductible donation to charity. This method allows for immediate cash savings. You can also transfer ownership of an existing life insurance policy to a charity, and all future premiums will be tax-deductible donations. In addition, if there are cash values in the policy, the charity will issue a tax receipt when ownership is transferred.

2) Buy the policy with you as the owner and the charity as the beneficiary. There is no tax deduction for premiums paid during your life, but upon your death the charity can issue a tax receipt for the proceeds received from the policy. Since things like capital gains and RRSP proceeds are taxable on your final tax return (unless they pass to your surviving spouse), the charitable tax credit may help reduce the income tax paid by your estate.

Contact your advisor to help you determine the charitable-giving arrangement that is best suited for your needs. Using life insurance to support your favourite charity makes it possible for you to both give and receive.

About the Author(s)

Brenda Hiscock

Brenda Hiscock is a Certified Financial Planner, with a specialty designation in Critical Illness, Disability and Long Term Care Insurance. She works closely with individuals and business owners to help them to define and achieve their financial goals. She can reached at

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