There’s a lot of pressure to be a good person in life, but it turns out it’s pretty easy once you kick the bucket. The key is to plan ahead. (There’s not much you can do after the fact).
Many people intend to sign up as organ donors or give assets to charity but never get around to it. A UK survey found that 35 per cent of respondents want to leave a donation in their will, but only seven per cent had made the necessary arrangements.
Don’t put off your post-mortem paperwork—do good beyond the grave with these simple tips.
Organs: be a lifesaver (literally)
A new bill in Nova Scotia would adopt presumed consent to organ donation. If passed, adults over 19 would be considered donors unless they opt out—a first in North America. This could increase organ donation rates by up to 35 per cent. Until more provinces join Nova Scotia, you’ll need to do the work.
Signing up to donate is easy, and your organs could save up to eight lives. In 2016, 4,500 Canadians were waiting for transplants and 260 died on the waiting list.
There are religious and cultural reasons for hesitation, but other concerns like age and health don’t always restrict eligibility. Even those who can’t give blood can often donate organs and tissue, so never count yourself out. Canada’s oldest tissue donor was 104—a record worth eulogizing. Visit organtissuedonation.ca to learn more.
Legacy giving: not just for high tax brackets
You don’t need big bucks—or reams of paperwork—to leave a charitable gift. Small amounts make a big difference, and it’s just a matter of adding a few sentences to your will.
What matters is how the donation is structured. Experts recommend naming a charity as your life insurance beneficiary to avoid unnecessary probate fees. Donating RRSPs and RRIFs lets you divert income from your final tax return. Otherwise, your last earnings could be taxed above 50 per cent. (You know what they say about death and taxes.)
Make sure to cite the charity’s government-registered name. “The local food bank” is vague, and could lead to costly legal disputes about your intent. Consider unrestricted funds instead of supporting one project, since priorities change and programs get replaced. You want to future-proof your will so your charity can make the most impact.
Check with local libraries, archives, museums and shelters to donate possessions.
Green burials: the new funeral black
Funerals are costly for both the pocketbook and the environment, but biting the big one doesn’t have to break the bank or hurt the planet. Choosing a simple casket (or no casket), opting for a biodegradable shroud over embalming, and skipping out on a headstone can reduce your environmental footprint—and save up to half of the $8,000 to $10,000 price tag.
Canada’s Green Burial Society recommends researching shared eco-friendly burial sites with communal memorials and conservation efforts. After your eco-friendly burial, you could literally be pushing up daisies.
Planning for the great beyond is unnerving, but it might be easier knowing that you can make world better when you leave it. Just be two steps ahead before you’re six feet under.
Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger are the co-founders of the WE Movement, which includes WE Charity, ME to WE Social Enterprise and WE Day.