Ways to Give


A bequest is a gift made through a will and may include cash, marketable securities, closely held stock, real estate, or tangible personal property. A bequest is one of the most common types of planned gift that McGill receives from an individual.

There are several types of bequests to choose from:

  1. Specific bequest: Designate a fixed dollar amount or specific property to McGill.
  2. Residual or proportional bequest: Designate either your entire estate or a percentage of your estate after other specific bequests are distributed. The advantage of designating a portion of your estate to McGill University is that the bequest automatically adjusts in size as your estate increases or decreases over the years.
  3. Contingent bequest: McGill is only given a bequest in the event of the death of the primary beneficiary named in the will.
  4. Testamentary trust: A testamentary trust is one that is created as part of the provisions of your will to assure the long-term fulfillment of your wishes. It allows you to devise a trust to provide for the ongoing needs of your spouse and family, while retaining the capital to provide a legacy to McGill.

See suggested wording for bequests to McGill University or the "Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning" in this quick reference sheet.

Things to consider:

  • Bequests can enhance the value of your estate, as they may enable you to minimize federal and provincial estate taxes.
  • Bequests may allow individuals to make much larger gifts than they could during their lifetimes.
  • Designations for bequests are revocable so you retain control of assets during your lifetime.
  • Your estate may claim gifts in the year of death equal to 100 per cent of your net income in that year and the preceding year.
  • You can support a University priority that meets your interest, such as student aid, building projects, specific programs or research. (We encourage you to do so in consultation with the Bequests and Planned Gifts staff.)
  • There is no minimum giving level for bequests.
  • U.S. Residents: McGill graduates and non-graduates can make Bequests directly to McGill University.  For further information on giving outside of Canada, please view the International Donors - United States page.

When drafting your will, you may use "McGill University" or "Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning" for our legal name.

Our Charitable Registration Number for Revenue Canada is 11912 8981 RR0001, and our I.R.S. Tax Number for the U.S. is EIN 98-6001153.

Confidential Statement of Future Intent: Have you included McGill in your estate plans? Completing the Confidential Statement of Future Intent ensures that your wishes are fulfilled and that your gift is used as you have specified.

Information on this site is of a general nature and not intended to constitute financial or legal advice. Please consult your income tax, financial and/or legal advisors before arranging a planned gift. All requests for information are confidential.

Glossary of Terms

Planned gifts can be tailored to suit your particular interests and preferences, and may vary depending on the designation.

Restricted Gift: This gift can be designated to specific areas such as a Faculty or School, or to general areas of need, such as Student Aid (for example, fellowships, scholarships, bursaries), Libraries, or Athletics.

Unrestricted Gift: This gift may be given to the University to use at its discretion to target its greatest needs and academic priorities.

Expendable: Depending on the size of the gift, you may request that your contributions be used to directly fund a general or specific University initiative in a timely fashion.

Endowment: You may choose to establish an endowment fund, the income of which is used to support a particular area of need in perpetuity.

Why a Will?

Roddick Gates

Plan ahead

Marilyn Piccini Roy, LLB’82, BCL’83

To paraphrase the words of British writer Aldous Huxley, people should not behave as though death were an unfounded rumour. Estate planning is for everyone. Every adult, no matter what age, should have a will.

While estate planning is frequently viewed as being a painful exercise, it is irresponsible not to have a will. Estate planning issues should be considered long before retirement age and before sudden changes in circumstances, such as severe disability or death, which might prevent you from making or changing your will.

You should have a professional guide you with your estate planning and with the preparation of your will. If you resort to doing your own will or using will kits, you may be saving now but paying later.

The key step in estate planning is to compile an inventory of your assets and liabilities. As part of the inventory process, it is important to check beneficiary designations on insurance policies, RRSPs and RRIFs to ensure that they are valid and up-to-date. Except for RRSPs and RRIFs issued by insurance companies, the designation of a beneficiary for an RRSP or RRIF is not valid in Quebec.

The consequences may not be what you intended, because the proceeds of these plans will belong to your estate and not your intended beneficiary who may have been your spouse; the plan proceeds will be subject to tax and the spousal rollover or tax deferral will not be available. It is important, then, to deal with this in your will by including a particular legacy of the proceeds of such plans to your intended beneficiary.

The next step is to identify your objectives, which will depend on various factors, such as your marital status, age, the ages of your family members, the needs of your beneficiaries and their ability to handle their own financial affairs, the current value of your estate, and your tax situation. It is also important to identify the best way of achieving your estate planning objectives, which may include setting up a testamentary trust which could be tax-efficient, insofar as it is taxed at graduated rates. The type of trust chosen will depend on personal circumstances but a discretionary trust provides flexibility as circumstances change.

If you are married with young children, a priority objective – perhaps your single hardest decision – is to name a tutor to your minor children. Such a nomination can be validly made in the will of the last parent to die. Parents often give more attention to the choice of a babysitter than to designating a tutor to assume responsibility for minor children should both parents die. Furthermore, if you die without a will, your spouse will not inherit all your estate but will receive one-third and your children the other two-thirds. This could implicate the involvement of the public curator to look after the rights of your minor children and obtaining authorizations to dispose of assets from the tutorship council or the court.

If you are divorced, separated or in an extended family situation, failure to plan is to plan for the possible eruption of explosive situations that will be ripe for costly legal challenges. If you are not legally married but are in a cohabitation arrangement, your de facto spouse will have no right to inherit from you should you die without a will, regardless of how long you have lived together or whether you co-own property or have joint bank accounts. Without a will, your partner may find herself or himself in co-ownership with your parents or siblings. The only legacy you leave to that spouse is one of pain and resentment.

Whatever your age, estate planning can make life much simpler for your loved ones and heirs by avoiding delays and by minimizing taxation, high costs and complications, as well as reducing the risk of litigation.

Marilyn Piccini Roy is a partner at Robinson Sheppard Shapiro in Montreal practising in the areas of wealth management, estates, trusts, regimes of protective supervision and elder law.

Information on this site is of a general nature and not intended to constitute financial or legal advice. Please consult your income tax, financial and/or legal advisors before arranging a planned gift. All requests for information are confidential.

Top 10 Tips For Making a Will

Are you making a will? Here's your essential checklist:

  1. Plan early – you’re never too young to make a will.
  2. Seek the guidance and advice of qualified financial and legal advisors.
  3. In consultation with your financial and legal advisors, be sure to effectively provide for an efficient disposition of your assets to all your intended beneficiaries, while maximizing tax benefits.
  4. Choose an executor* wisely, since the executor will be acting on your behalf and carrying out your wishes after your death.
  5. If you have minor children, carefully select a guardian/trustee.
  6. Ensure the appropriate disposition of personal effects, especially those with sentimental value. In fact, you may wish to dispose of these items before death.
  7. Clearly outline your funeral arrangements.
  8. Inform someone (preferably the named executor) of the location of your will and other important documents.
  9. Consider McGill in your will.
  10. Review your will regularly (every 3-5 years).

* In the province of Quebec, an “executor” is called a “liquidator.” In the province of Ontario, an “executor” is an “estate trustee.”

Information on this site is of a general nature and not intended to constitute financial or legal advice. Please consult your income tax, financial and/or legal advisors before arranging a planned gift. All requests for information are confidential.