Over the past seven decades, I have had the pleasure of being involved in our family business that helps philanthropists fulfill their charitable giving goals. We have been able to help donors design and implement plans and see them through execution and completion.
I vividly remember sitting beside my late Dad, Al G. Brown z”l, listening as esteemed members of our community discussed plans to leave substantial bequests to the United Jewish Welfare Fund, either through their wills or an insurance policy. More recently we have been accompanying the children of these donors as they present these matured gifts to the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto and The Toronto Jewish Federation. In many instances, these gifts are the impetus for the next generation to follow in their parents’ or grandparents’ footsteps, perpetuating the family’s legacy and planned giving.
These presentations are certainly bittersweet. In most cases, the presentation of the gift is because of a loved one passing away, which resulted in the delivery of insurance policy proceeds or a bequest. However, in the majority of cases, the presentation event is a celebration of life and the culmination of a donor’s dream - a dream to help our community in perpetuity.
This past year, I had the privilege of being involved in several of these types of presentations to various organizations. The planned gifts that we delivered ranged from $50,000 to $1,000,000. Frankly, the amount of the gift is not the impact of the event; it is, rather, the looks on the faces of the children and grandchildren who attend these emotional presentations.
I know that feeling because one of the gifts we delivered in a previous year was established by my dad and mom. The organizations, including JFGT and others, were present in the Goldstein Showroom and the sense of pride that my sister Golda, our children, and I had was palpable. It is an indescribable feeling to know that our parents’ names will be associated with programs that otherwise would not have been able to continue without their foresight and vision.
We, who are involved in the various disciplines - accountants, lawyers, insurance professionals - have the opportunity to help our clients fulfill their charitable missions and to continue their giving in perpetuity. We are also not exempt from this mission. Rabbi Tarfon, in “Ethics of the Fathers,” said: “It is not your duty to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.” We should at least add our names and our legacies alongside of our clients. Besides advising our clients, we as advisors should take an active role in participating in this important effort.
With this in mind, I’d like to explore an existing strategy to create a planned giving legacy that is not necessarily new but might gain some attention as the result of a new insurance product that was introduced a few weeks ago.
The new contract is an insurance plan that guarantees payment on the death of the insured of both the insured benefit and a refund of all the premiums paid. The contract identifies separately the premium paid for the refund of premium rider. There are some limitations and restrictions. Still, this contract seems suitable for a split-dollar arrangement where the insurance benefit is paid out to a private or public foundation, and the premiums are refunded to the donor.
The use of this strategy has a long-checkered history. Prior to the release of a Technical Bill and Technical News No 26 (both released in December 2002), the CRA’s view was that a gift of an interest in a split dollar policy did not qualify as a charitable donation. However, the December 2002 releases clarified situations in which a charity may issue a donation receipt for split dollar contracts, even when the donor receives some benefit from the arrangement.
There were several technical interpretations that discussed split dollar contracts in which the donor receives an “advantage” and how the recipient charity may quantify the “amount of the advantage.” It seems that each contract would have to be examined independently and the benefit would be a “question of fact in each particular circumstance.”
Technical Interpretation 2009-031202, dated November 19, 2009, addresses a fact pattern involving a situation where a policy is donated to charity and the donor pays all the premiums. There is a separate rider cost for a return of premium provision. On death, the donor receives a refund of all the premiums paid. The technical interpretation confirmed that the premium for the return of rider premium should not be receipted.
These technical interpretations and the introduction of this new refundable premium life insurance contract which clearly identifies the cost of the premium for the refund of premiums rider makes it easy for the charity to identify the value of the benefit to the donor. As a result, this new product might provide us with another arrow in our quiver to help our clients and ourselves fulfill our obligation to community and our charitable giving goals.