May is Leave a Legacy Month in Canada! 

How making a gift in a will can change lives

At age three, a farm kid from rural BC, my parents took me to see a folk music concert where I encountered the violin for the first time. In that singular moment of wonder, I knew I had found my voice.  I then pursued lessons and opportunities to play with relentless tenacity.  

As my abilities progressed and my level of study increased, the cost of a suitable instrument was out of reach for my family and began to impede my progress. I was incredibly fortunate to receive a bequeathed scholarship violin to use during my undergraduate years. This crucially transformative gift allowed me to progress as a musician and eventually overcome the financial barriers to purchasing my own instrument, a violin made for me in 1998 by New York luthier Geoffrey Ovington. 

This violin remains, to this day, one of the most valuable items in my possession.  It is my plan to bequeath this instrument to future generations of violinists and provide that same gift to others who come after me.   

Christie Gray – CEO – NYO Canada 

Regardless of your financial situation, creating a will is important as it can provide peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order and that your most cherished things in life will be taken care of according to your wishes.   

Even if you don’t have significant assets, a will allows you to specify how you want your belongings, savings, pets, and any other personal items to be distributed and cared for after your death.  

Unfortunately, a study commissioned by Willful, an estate planning platform that helps Canadians create a will and power of attorney documents online, found that only 1 in 10 Canadians (12%) plan to leave part of their estate to charity when they pass away.   

In Canada, dying without a will or intestate means your estate will be distributed according to provincial or territorial laws. These laws establish a hierarchy of beneficiaries, typically starting with your spouse or common-law partner and children. If you have neither, other family members may inherit. Without a will, there’s no designated guardian for minor children, leaving the decision to the court, potentially conflicting with your wishes. An administrator, not of your choosing, will manage estate distribution, leading to possible delays, increased costs, and family disputes.  

Setting up a will is easy.  You can contact a trusted advisor (a lawyer who specializes in estate planning) or use an online tool to create one: 

  1. willful:  
  1. Law Depot: 
  1. Legal Wills Canada:  

Creating a will allows you to dictate asset distribution, appoint guardians for minor children, and choose an executor, simplifying the process, reducing costs, and ensuring your wishes are followed. Overall, having a will in Canada provides clarity, control, and peace of mind, regardless of the size of your estate. 

Giving a gift through your will is also a powerful tool for charities across Canada.  Not only does it allow you to support causes that are meaningful to you even after your passing, but it also leaves a lasting legacy aligned with your values and beliefs.  

These gifts can make a significant difference to charitable organizations, enabling them to continue their vital work while also planning ahead to ensure the organization’s long-term sustainability. 

Charitable gifts in wills can also have significant tax benefits for both your estate and your beneficiaries. In many jurisdictions, charitable donations made through a will are exempt from estate taxes, meaning that more of your assets can go towards causes you care about rather than taxes.  

Lastly, leaving a charitable gift in your will can inspire others to give and perpetuate a culture of philanthropy within your family and community. It sets an example for future generations, encouraging them to support charitable causes and positively impact the world. 

In summary, creating a will is an important and significant step in your life, as it helps to ensure everything you treasure is taken care of how you intend. Making a charitable gift in your will allows you to leave a meaningful legacy, provide support to important causes, reduce tax liabilities, and inspire others to contribute to the betterment of society. 

If you have any questions or would like more information about making a gift in your will, please contact Nikki Beaulieu at 613-217-8258 or