POSTED November 1, 2021
A supporter’s legacy gift offers 75X value of biggest gift in life
Read as a woman shares the story of her mom’s journey to leaving a gift that minimizes taxes and maximizes impact
By Brianne Binelli, digital content and services manager, Canada
Elizabeth and Michael enjoyed a courtship you often only see in the movies.
In 1963, they both boarded a ship bound for international waters. Michael was taking his mom travelling, Elizabeth was setting out to meet a friend in Paris. After a few days, they met and began dating for the remaining two weeks on the ship. That was just the beginning of their story.
After arriving in England, the young couple got engaged. Elizabeth cancelled her plans for Paris, instead spending more time with her fiancé in England before returning home to Calgary. Following a year-long, across-the-pond relationship, they were married. They raised two children, Heather and Fraser, instilling in them a respect for culture, helping others and getting a good education.
“Education was very important in our family. We always went to really good schools and were encouraged to do really well because that was our future,” Heather tells us, recalling the example set by her father who is profoundly deaf but found a way to excel academically before articling to become a lawyer.
Heather and Fraser both took a life path geared toward helping others — the former as a teacher-turned-advocate for victims of abuse and the latter was a graduate in international development who now works in his field.
It’s no surprise philanthropy was also a big part of the family’s life. “It started with my grandmother giving to people through hospitality and taking care of people who are less fortunate. That has always been something everyone in my family has done,” says Heather, noting that even the grandkids are already asking for donations in place of gifts and to help those in need. She adds: “It’s just sort of who we are.”
In fact, when Heather thinks of her mom, she describes her as self-sacrificing, generous and loving. Elizabeth lived out that spirit in her 25 years of giving to support Children Believe programs and sponsored children — a habit inspired by her daughter.
“I started, and then my mom always heard when I would talk about the letters and the photos. And, my mom said, ‘Oh that would be great. Maybe I should do that, too.’ So, she started sponsoring,” Heather tells us, explaining the joy those connections brought.
She recalls: “We loved reading their letters. Hearing what [the kids] were doing with the money and activities they had done. That was great, and we loved getting pictures, seeing how they changed.”
So, Heather was not surprised when her mom mentioned she wanted to give a lot of her shares in stock away to different charities. It was important to her mom to help children. For Children Believe, this gift would be 75X more than the largest gift Elizabeth had ever given.
For Elizabeth and her family, this generous end-of-life gift was also strategic. “We knew she was going to do that,” says Heather, adding that her mother preferred to do that than leave a bequest that would take longer to process. She wanted her gift to reach the kids sooner. And, by transferring her shares to Children Believe, rather than liquidating them and donating the cash, she saved the capital gains tax and minimized her estate taxes — all while being able to help more kids through Children Believe than she would have before.
So, when Elizabeth passed away from cancer last fall, the family continued to count their blessings and live as their mom did.
“We’re very blessed, we have more than we need,” says Heather. “And when you look at other kids that have so little, she and we want(ed) to share the wealth to make sure other people who are less fortunate can at least have the basics of life.”
Michael and Elizabeth’s life journey together lasted more than half a century. A big thank you to Elizabeth and her entire family for sharing their blessings with the children and families we help dream of a brighter future.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.