Johnny Appleseed could be the ultimate poster boy for leaving a legacy.

As a child, I did think that apple trees in each yard in our small town were directly planted by the famous traveller as he wandered from coast to coast. As an adult, I learned the apple trees that grew in my yard came from the local nursery. I planted each one with some sweat and toil. They were symbols of hope and longevity for each place. We did pick a few apples from each tree, but mostly we moved before the trees were mature and the harvest was bountiful. Yet they lived on, giving apples each year to owner after owner. A legacy to be sure.

Bequests are the apples of legacy giving. They are the most common, most talked about, and an excellent opportunity to nourish the next generation. They can be a gift of cash, a gift of art, or any other item of significance.

There are other fruits in the giving tree. How about a gift of insurance? Many a worker has scribbled the name of a charity as the beneficiary of the company insurance policy that is part of the employee benefit package. It is a wonderful, quick, cost-effective way to make a gift. If you are working for a charity, think about asking your colleagues to join you in making a similar gift. You would be top banana at your charity if you did leave a gift of insurance.

Charitable remainder trusts and gift annuities are not as similar as dates and figs, but both involve transferring a block of money to a charity for care and later use in return for a favourable tax receipt and income for the remainder of your life. Financial advisors are the horticulturalists that tend these branches of the giving trees. They can show you how each type of gift works and the benefits of each. Often people consider these fruits after they have made a bequest and are more mature in their years. Are these gift vehicles the fruit for you or your clients?

Combining these fruits too is an opportunity known to provide a treat for a charity as tasty as a fruit salad. Using the income generated by a charitable gift annuity to pay for a gift of life insurance can enormously grow your ability to make a gift.

There are many other berries in the financial marketplace that provide an opportunity for a charitable gift, but for most it is the humble bequest—the apple of legacy giving—that is the way for many to make a future gift.

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Photo credit to DMF

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