Charitable Bequest

A charitable bequest is simply a distribution from your estate to a registered charity through your last Will and Testament. There are different kinds of bequests. For each, you must use very specific language to indicate the precise direction of your assets so that your final wishes can be successfully carried out. In any charitable bequest, however, be sure to name the charitable recipient accurately.

When you include a gift to charity in your Will, you can indicate that you would like your gift to be used for the general charitable purposes of the charity you would like to support, or you can indicate a particular purpose for which the gift is to be used. It is always a good idea to discuss any specific purpose with your intended beneficiary charity in order to ensure that the charity will be able to meet your wishes.

There are a few types of charitable bequests, for example:

  • Specific bequests
  • Residuary bequests
  • Contingency bequests

Specific Bequests are made when a specific dollar amount or a particular asset is bequeathed. (e.g., $5,000; musical instruments;.)

Specific bequest language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath to LEGAL NAME OF CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, the sum of $_______ (or a description of a specific asset), for the benefit of NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY for its general charitable purposes.”

OR

"I give, devise, and bequeath to LEGAL NAME OF CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, the sum of $_______ (or a description of a specific asset), for the benefit of LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY to be used for the following purpose: (state the purpose). If at any time in the judgment of the trustees of LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY it is impossible or impracticable to carry out exactly the designated purpose, they shall determine an alternative purpose closest to the designated purpose."

Residual Bequests are made when you intend to leave the residue portion (any left over property) of your assets after other terms of the Will have been satisfied. (e.g. 20% of the residue of your estate; the entire residue of your estate)

Residuary bequest language:

"I give (a portion of OR the entire rest, residue, and remainder of my estate, both real and personal), to LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, for its general charitable purposes."

OR

"I give (a portion of OR the entire rest, residue, and remainder) of my estate, both real and personal, to LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, for the benefit of LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY to be used for the following purpose: (state the purpose). If at any time in the judgment of the trustees of LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY it is impossible or impracticable to carry out exactly the designated purpose, they shall determine an alternative purpose closest to the designated purpose."

Contingent Bequests allow you to leave a portion of, or your entire estate, to a particular charity if your named beneficiary does not survive you.

Contingent bequest language:

"I devise and bequeath the residue of the property, real and personal and wherever situated, owned by me at my death, to (name of beneficiary), if (she/he) survives me. If (name of beneficiary) does not survive me, I devise and bequeath the residue of my estate to LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, for its general charitable purposes."

OR

"I devise and bequeath the residue of the property, real and personal and wherever situated, owned by me at my death, to (name of beneficiary), if (she/he) survives me. If (name of beneficiary) does not survive me, I devise and bequeath the residue of my estate to LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY/REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER, for the following purpose: (state the purpose). If at any time in the judgment of the trustees of LEGAL NAME OF REGISTERED CHARITY it is impossible or impracticable to carry out exactly the designated purpose, they shall determine an alternative purpose closest to the designated purpose."

Without a Will, there is no mechanism in place to make a bequest to a charitable organization, so here are the steps you should take to make sure your wishes are met.

  • Make a list of organizations or causes that you would like to support.
  • Make a detailed list of your assets (financial, real estate, vehicles, jewelry, collectibles, musical instruments, etc.)
  • Set up an appointment with your financial or legal advisor. The  planned giving officer at the organization you intend to support will also be able to provide information that may be helpful for the meeting with your advisors. These professionals will guide you through the process.