Toronto native Tyler Ward grew up thinking about macro issues like food insecurity and poverty. “From when I was young, it was just part of the dinner-table conversation,” he said. His parents, a high school teacher and public health nurse, worked in high-need neighbourhoods, so they talked to him frequently about inequities that they witnessed. They taught him: “Life is about helping other people whenever we can.”
Now, at age 36, he’s already put his money where his mouth is, and in quite an extraordinary way. He and his wife, Romi, are arranging to leave the vast majority of their estate to charities, and a large portion will go to Daily Bread.
“We want to help people meet their basic needs when this is increasingly difficult,” he said. “Until there is a guaranteed annual income in Canada, a growing number of Canadians will be unable to afford the two most basic necessities in life, food and housing.”
He recognizes that when it comes to estate planning, people want to leave money for their relatives. However, he wants to stress that people can take care of their relatives and still consider a planned gift to charity in their wills. “You don’t need to leave a staggering sum of money,” he said. Even a gift of 1%-5% of your estate might be larger than any donation you’d typically be able to give.
And every bit makes a difference. Will Power, a public education movement aiming to inspire 3.5% more Canadians to include a planned gift in their wills by 2030, estimates that if they’re successful, an additional $40 billion will go to Canadian charities.
The other misconception Tyler has come across is that people think they don’t need a will because they don’t have anything to leave anyone. But if you have a life insurance policy through your work or some savings in your bank account, then you have money to leave, and can start planning now.
“My wife and I have peace knowing that, upon our deaths, our money is going to a good cause,” Tyler said. “There will be people whose quality of life will improve, people who will not go hungry. We wish we could feed Toronto for a year with our estate, but we can’t do that alone. However, our contribution will make an important difference.”