Making a charitable gift through a bequest in your will means that you are arranging a gift now to take effect after you die. Your current cash flow is not affected and you continue to have complete control over all of your assets during your lifetime.

Your will is a statement of your values and reflects those things that are important in your life. In addition to family and friends many people wish to remember those organizations whose work most closely reflects their values. A charitable bequest simply is a clause in your will directing your executor to pay a portion of your assets to a named charity.

You can arrange bequests for specific items or property, or for a specific amount. Alternately, you can arrange a bequest of a percentage of the residue of your estate. The residue is what remains after all expenses and specific bequests are paid.

A charitable bequest provides a tax credit that your executor may use on your final two annual tax returns for up to 100% of your annual net income. With careful planning, it may be possible to eliminate all taxes payable on death.

To ensure your wishes are legally binding you should consult a lawyer. Our gift planning team is available to assist you and your lawyer with advice and sample bequest wording to ensure your bequest meets your needs and is useful for medical research.

Legal information Society of Nova Scotia

Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick

Community Legal Information Association of PEI

Frequently Asked Questions about Bequests

What are the advantages of making a bequest?

  • A bequest has no effect on your assets or cash flow during your lifetime.
  • Your will can be changed at any time during your lifetime.
  • Your will is a statement of your values. Charitable bequests speak to your concern for the organizations whose work you value.

What is the best way to include the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation in my will?

  • Gifts for general research purposes are best. If you wish to support a specific area of research, keep the purpose as broad as possible.
  • Your bequest may be permanently endowed, if it exceeds $25,000, and may be named for you or a person who has been influential in your life.

Will my bequest generate a tax credit?

  • Yes, we will issue a charitable tax receipt when your bequest is received. The resulting tax credit will help offset income taxes owing on your final return. Your executor may claim credits up to 100 per cent of your net income on your final two tax returns.

What if I already have a will?

  • Your lawyer can prepare a simple statement, called a ‘codicil,’ to add your bequest to your existing will.

Can I leave non-cash assets to the Foundation?

  • Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation can accept most types of property, such as real estate or securities. Keep in mind that, in most cases, the property will be sold and the proceeds used to support medical research. With the exception of securities, your bequest will generally provide the greatest benefit to medical research if you instruct your executor to sell the property and contribute the proceeds.

Checklist for Making a Bequest

  • Be sure to use our full legal name: Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.
  • Be clear when stating the amount or percentage of your bequest.
  • Consider a gift for general research purposes. If you wish to designate your gift to a particular area of research, such as cancer or cardiovascular research, state your wishes clearly. Be careful not to limit your gift to a very narrow area.
  • Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions where your gift would be most useful.
  • Consult our sample bequest language guidelines, but do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the correct language.
  • Consult a lawyer to ensure your wishes are legally binding!

Sample Bequest Language

The following sample bequest language is designed to help you arrange a bequest to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. Please keep in mind that the Foundation is not providing legal advice through this document. You are urged to consult a lawyer to ensure your will is in proper legal form.

Type of Bequest

1) Specific bequest
a) Sum of money
“I give to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation [the sum of $XXX,000] to be used for the [general purposes of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation].”
b) Particular property such as stocks, real estate, artwork, etc.
“I give to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation [500 shares of XYZ stock] for the [general purposes of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation].”

2) Gift of the residue of an estate
Designates all or a portion of whatever remains in your estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and other bequests have been paid.
“I give to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation all [or a stated percentage, e.g. 50 per cent] of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, for the [general purposes of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation].”

3) Contingent bequest
Takes effect only under certain conditions.
“Should [name: e.g. spouse] not survive me or die within ninety (90) days of the date of my death, or as a result of a common disaster, then I give to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation [amount of cash, property, residue, etc.] for the [general purposes of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation].

4) Testamentary trust
A designated portion of the estate property is used to fund the trust, which then pays the net income to the beneficiary(ies) identified in your will. When the trust terminates (at the death of the beneficiary(ies) or at the end of a term of years), the trust principal is distributed to the Foundation.
“I direct that my executor raise out of the capital of my estate [the sum of $XXX,000] to be held and invested by my trustee and to pay to (name of spouse or other individual/s) all of the net income which accrues therefrom during (his, her, their) natural lifetime(s). Upon the death of [name of beneficiary(ies)], such trust fund shall be distributed to The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. I appoint [name of person or institution] as trustee of this trust.”

Purpose of the Bequest

A bequest may be designated for general purposes or for a particular use. It may also be restricted (e.g. permanently invested with only the annual investment return used) to establish an endowment. Below are sample “purpose” clauses that can be added to any of the bequests described above.

1) Undesignated use
“ be used for the general purposes of The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.” [May also add, “... at the discretion of the Board of Directors.”]

2) Designated use
“ be used for [detailed description of what the donor wants the bequest to accomplish].”

“ be used to purchase [a specific type of equipment].”
“ be used to support [a specific research area e.g. cancer, cardiovascular, Alzheimer disease, etc.]”

Note: Make sure the terms of the designation are not overly restrictive. This will ensure that the gift is useful in the future.

3) Restricted to Establish a Named Endowment Fund (Suggested minimum $25,000.00)
You may establish a permanent fund, perhaps named for yourself or for someone who has been influential in your life. Only the annual investment return is used. Here is an example of how you might word such a bequest:

“This gift may be merged with any of the investment assets of the Foundation, but it shall be entered in the Foundation’s books and records as the [John and Mary Jones Endowed Fund for…medical research, cancer research, research equipment, etc.]. The income from the endowment shall be used for [general medical research, etc…].”

Before writing specific language for an endowment, the donor or his/her lawyer is strongly urged to check with officials of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation to ensure that the proposed endowment is consistent with the mission of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation and that the amount of the bequest would be sufficient for the endowment.

‘Power to Vary’ Provision

If you are designating your bequest to a specific purpose, or restricting it to establish an endowed fund for a particular purpose, you should include a ‘power to vary’ clause in your will. This will ensure the long-term usefulness of your gift.

‘Power to Vary’ clause for a designated bequest or investment return from an endowed fund:
“If, in the opinion of the Board of Directors of The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, it should become impossible, inadvisable, or impractical to use [this gift] [the annual investment return from the endowed fund] for the specified purpose(s), then the Board may in their discretion use the [gift] [annual investment return] to the best advantage of the Foundation, keeping in mind the original wishes of the donor. In any such alternative application, the support provided by this bequest shall be clearly identified with the name of [the Donor].”