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Sometimes you just have to move on to the shortbread.

I was attending an event at a congregation of another denomination.  As a conversation opener, a fellow asked me what I did for a living.  When I said that I was a Financial Development Officer for the United Church, he asked what that involved.

“I visit congregations and individuals to develop awareness about bequests and other legacy gifts for the Church, such as gift annuities and life insurance,” I said.

“Life insurance??” he asked, rather incredulously.  “How does that work?”

“Well to begin with, someone can name their congregation to be beneficiary of a life insurance policy,” I replied.

“Why would they do that?” he asked.  I explained that a gift of life insurance allows a person to provide a significant gift at death for their congregation or favourite mission in the Church for a reasonable cost now—a “more bang for the buck” kind of thing.

Again, he said, “But why would they do that?”

I tried another tack, mentioning the tax advantages.  “If the donor makes the Church the beneficiary only of the policy, their estate will receive a charitable donation tax receipt for the proceeds of the policy.  The resulting charitable tax credit will offset some of the taxes payable on the estate.”

But again he said, “I still don’t get it.  How can life insurance be a gift?  Isn’t it just for your family?”

Now if the fellow had been a United Church person, I would have felt a strong urge to keep the conversation running.  But I decided that it was time to move on.

“My!  Isn’t this just the best shortbread?”  (over)


Our conversation reminded me how many people see life insurance as having only one purpose— to take care of their family’s needs in the case of their death.

Establishing a gift of life insurance can make a lot of sense to a number of people, however:

Younger people can purchase a life insurance policy for a comparatively low cost.

An older person with a policy that they’ve held for many years—perhaps even paid up—but which is no longer needed for family security, could change the beneficiary to their favourite area of the Church’s work:  their congregation, the Mission and Service Fund, the United Church of Canada Foundation, an outreach ministry.

Some create a life insurance gift instead of a bequest in their will as part of their estate plan.  The insurance proceeds go directly to the beneficiary, leaving their full estate intact for their loved ones.

If the Church is made the owner of the policy as well as the beneficiary, the donor receives a charitable donation receipt for the premiums they pay which can offset the cost by reducing their income tax.  (In this case no donation receipt is issued to the donor’s estate.)

All in all, creating a life insurance gift is another win-win situation for the donor, and for the United Church.



Kathryn Hofley

Financial Development Officer

2438 - 85 Garry Street

Winnipeg, MB     R3C 4J5

Phone: (204) 943-4844


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"God gave us memory that we might have roses in December" - James M. Barrie