Estate Planning

Have you thought about your legacy?

My Mom had a stroke a few days ago. Family members and volunteers are taking turns sitting with her as she is now palliative. As a family, we are thinking of how we will remember her with donations and what she wanted and did not want to leave behind for the benefit of others. When my Dad died, I got a small amount of money and put in a gas fireplace because I remembered my Dad getting up very early in the morning to light the furnace and warm the old farmhouse before the rest of the family got up in the morning. When I turn on that fireplace, I think of him. All of us face these issues of legacy as we do our own planning. What we want to see grow and prosper after we are gone is the question.

Communities and causes

I also volunteer with the local Community Foundation and see bequests turn into grants to support what the person valued or believed in whether it be sports for disadvantaged youth, literacy or the arts among many others. About 185 of these operate across Canada with the first one founded in Winnipeg during the Great Depression. Funding has dried up for social services, as well as arts organizations and was never there for some environmental concerns, for example. Lots of municipalities are struggling with the downloads from other levels of government and with the demands of infrastructure costs. The choices are enormous in terms of needs in each community.

Some folks support organizations or causes that they have been active with during their lives or pick one that reflects their values and beliefs. I now find it interesting to read where mourners ask that donations be given in their loved one’s name. Health-related funding is common but many other specialty groups get suggested as well.

Related article: Great ways to give to charity

What about mom?

Do we plant a tree or donate to a public garden? Do we give donations to health-related organizations like the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Cancer Society of Canada? What would fit for my Mom? She was a nurse involved with bringing lots of babies into the world. She lived on a farm most of her life and enjoyed visiting gardens especially where someone else had done all the work. She was very involved with her children and grandchildren encouraging their educational goals. She had very good care at the nursing home where she lived her final days. She taught exercise classes to seniors. She had heart problems and had good medical care. She had canvassed for the Cancer Society. She let us know where she did not want to donate and gave some suggestions but wanted us to decide.

People establish foundations, set up trust funds, donate to institutions, initiate or maintain projects, and support their faith organizations with their bequests. They leave their family or friends and even their pets more secure in this world. There are a plethora of choices. Finding what fits does require some thought and planning, however.

Have you given this legacy issue any thought or talked to your family about what their wishes would be or how they would like to be remembered?

Related article: Everyone has a legacy – what’s yours?


  1. Molly

    Our thoughts are with you and your family as you let go of your mom. I hope all your wonderful memories help you through this hard time.

  2. Jim Yih

    What a wonderful story Donna. A great tribute to your mom.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. Troy

    I’m not a big fan of leaving my kids anything behind. When I have kids, I’ll teach them to be independant and self-reliant.

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