By Angus Watt
Angus Watt Advisory Group
I suspect that it’s always been important to you to give back to your community. For me, at age 12, I was selling apples for my Scout troop. When I lost my brother a week after my wedding, I made it my mission to raise awareness about mental health. Then, following the birth of our two kids, supporting children’s health became a priority.
So when my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in 1992, it was all hands on deck to support cancer care here at home. While Heather was receiving treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute, our daughter Kate, then a high school student, put on a horse show to raise money for cancer care and research. Our entire family pitched in to help. Together, we raised more than $500,000 over the next five years.
We saw firsthand the impact that gifts like ours, and those of generous donors like you, can have. My wife is cancer-free today because of the care she received at the Cross, extraordinary care that was made possible by their advanced research. All of us have been, or will be, affected by cancer in one way or another. That’s why it’s so critical that we all do our part to ensure that cancer treatments continue to improve. One of the best ways to make that happen is by leaving a gift in your will.
Our entire family was so relieved when Heather’s treatment was successful. She was in remission for some time before we heard the words that cancer survivors fear the most: “Your cancer has returned.” Thanks to the skilled healthcare teams at the Cross, and caring Albertans like you who make their work possible, Heather beat cancer a second time. We were so grateful. After she recovered from treatment, Heather and I focused our volunteer time on making sure that other families like ours could have the same great outcomes.
When Heather joined the Board of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, we really became aware of the remarkable work being done by world-class cancer experts across the province. Before long, Heather and I felt strongly about elevating our regular giving to a level that could have a profound effect on the future of cancer care, right here at home.
As a wealth advisor who has worked in the investment business for over 40 years, I knew that making a legacy gift to the Alberta Cancer Foundation was our best strategy. We could help other families facing cancer across the province by funding the most promising research. At the same time, such a gift could have significant tax benefits for our estate. This decision means a lot to us. Cancer is a cause that is dear to our hearts, and I know it is close to yours as well. We made our choice in honour of Heather’s journey and in tribute to the new treatments and clinical trials that donors like you make possible.
When I talk to my clients about giving to charity in their wills, I often hear a common misconception that bequests are something only wealthy people do. That’s simply not true. Every day, Albertans realize they can make a substantially greater gift in their will than they could during their lifetime.
There are different ways that you can make a legacy gift to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, depending on what’s right for you. All of them will help your hard-earned money support the causes that matter the most to you, while saving taxes for your estate. In fact, there is an exponential amount of good that you can do by joining Heather and me in giving a gift in your estate. I know that it can sometimes feel complex, but it’s really quite simple. Here’s just a sample of what I would share with my clients.
One of the most common ways to leave a legacy is to designate a percentage of your estate to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. This is an attractive option for people who know they want to make a legacy gift, but also want to provide for their families. If you think of your estate like a pie, you can cut it into as many pieces – of varying sizes – as you like. Each beneficiary, be it your favourite charities or your loved ones, will receive their share.
Another simple option is to leave a set amount of money to the Alberta Cancer Foundation in your will, known as a specific bequest. Your estate will receive a donation receipt for the full total of your gift and the resulting tax credits will offset the taxes owing on your estate. This maximizes the amounts that go to your beneficiaries.
You can also use life insurance to make a legacy gift. A lot of people think donating life insurance is even more complicated, but it’s really not. I encourage you to speak to your wealth advisor about the ways you could use a life insurance policy to make a significant gift to the Alberta Cancer Foundation and save your estate substantial taxes. When you meet with your advisor, I recommend that you have a good discussion about your personal vision for the future. What values would you like to see celebrated? What changes would you like to see in how cancer is treated in Alberta? How would you like to be remembered?
As a wealth advisor, I’m in the business of growing wealth for my clients, but I believe money is just a tool that can be used to do great things. I take pride in helping my clients use their assets in ways that have a profound impact on their community.
Personally, I’m really pleased that our legacy gift will support clinical trials for cancer patients across Alberta. There’s great satisfaction in knowing that we’ll be helping to give Albertans access to the latest treatments, years before they are available on the market. I believe that Heather’s treatment was successful thanks to clinical trials. Were it not for that cutting-edge research that legacy gifts made possible, her journey could have been devastatingly different. It’s difficult to adequately convey our gratitude.
Your legacy gift will help our province’s cancer centres retain our brilliant doctors and scientists. I am constantly in awe of the remarkable advances they are making. They are delivering hope by helping people to live longer lives with more effective, less toxic treatments.
No matter the size of your estate, let me assure you that every single legacy gift contributes to a better future, because it all adds up to something wonderful and hopeful. Together, we can make cancer care in our communities even stronger for generations to come. There is profound comfort in knowing that you are creating a better future for your children, grandchildren and their children.
So many futures depend on the choices we make today. Please give a legacy gift to the Alberta Cancer Foundation some serious thought. And thank you, once again, for all that you are already doing for cancer patients across our province.
Angus Watt, Legacy Donor and Volunteer
P.S. If you have any questions about the legacy giving options that I’ve mentioned, Christy Soholt at the Alberta Cancer Foundation would be happy to provide some information. Please feel free to contact her at Christy.Soholt@albertacancer.ca or 780-643-4563. I encourage you to talk to your wealth advisor too. There are so many tax-smart ways to make a legacy gift. But no matter which option you feel is best for you and your family, the end result is the same. Better cancer care in Alberta for generations to come.