There is a strange charm in the thoughts of a good legacy, or the hopes of an estate, which wondrously alleviates the sorrow that men would otherwise feel for the death of friends.
—Miguel de Cervantes Source: Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605–1615), Part II (1615), Book IV, Ch. 74
As Canadian Wills and Estates lawyers Jordan Atin, Barry Fish, & Les Kotzer also put it, “A Family War over a parent’s estate is a like a divorce between siblings. But, in the case of an estate dispute, the combatants have grown up together, shared a childhood, and were often close to each other for 30, 40, and in some cases, 80 years.” And, if the will includes significant charitable bequests which the testator has not disclosed to family during their lifetime, it is possible that estate litigations could ensue.
In their book, The Family War: Winning the Inheritance Battle, Atin, Fish and Kotzer provide an insight into the emotional and financial costs of family war. Encouraging clients to share their beliefs and plans with heirs during lifetime helps unite families and the legacies they create can reap enormous rewards for several generations.
In 2019, the CAGP Foundation undertook a comprehensive study with Environics Analytics to better understand the factors influencing Canadian charitable giving in wills. Findings suggested that, although 86% of Canadians know they can make a charitable gift in their will, 63% indicated that, leaving a gift to charity in their will would erode inheritance for their loved ones. This precipitated the launch of Will Power, a national public education effort designed to better inform the strategic charitable gifting choices that can be more effectively integrated to assist families and their advisors execute estate planning.
Reviewing and updating your will when family circumstances change, understanding the tax implications of assets disposed from the estate, matters of probate and possibly gifting assets to family or other beneficiaries during lifetime, and issues around capacity should be periodically assessed. On balance, when these considerations have been satisfactorily addressed, engaging in a discussion on how to then align charitable gifts with your values makes this process far more rewarding and impactful. I have supported many families and advisors through this process and have joined the willpower movement. https://www.willpower.ca/advisors/laily-pirbhai/
As a trusted advisor, I provide independent, customized philanthropic counsel to individual families, private and public family foundations, and the advisors that serve them. Many factors will shape the philanthropic services you may require, including your objectives, time horizon, and resources. Clients can accept the services they need, in any combination, and use them continuously or ad-hoc at any point on the giving/granting continuum.
For more information on how I collaborate with clients, please visit the consulting-advising page on my website.