“I want to give to the Church”
The Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) often receives queries on how someone can bequeath assets to the Church when they pass on. PEGGY YEE, President of the CLG, examines the ways that people can do this, and highlights the areas that they should be aware of.
When can I make a gift/donation?
Any person can, whilst alive, make a direct donation or gift to any person or entity. If the gift is intended to be made only upon the death of the giver, this is done by way of a bequest in a Will drawn up by your lawyer.
What can I give?
You may specify what exactly it is that you are giving, or the portion that you are giving. You may be giving all your assets, or a percentage of your assets, or a specific asset only. For example, you can give:
- A percentage of your entire estate i.e. the sum total of all assets owned by you as at the date of your death;
- A specified amount of cash;
- Proceeds of an insurance policy or sale of shares;
- Immovable property i.e. a HDB flat/private property;
- A specific asset e.g. bank balances, or an item of value;
- A nomination i.e. you may nominate a specific entity as a beneficiary of your CPF balances or your insurance policies. If, for example, you are nominating a particular church, you should name it as a beneficiary, and quote its UEN number in your CPF or insurance forms.
Do I get tax relief?
If you are making a cash donation or gift whilst you are alive, and you intend for this donation to be tax deductible, you will need to ensure that the donation is made to a registered charity which is an Institution of Public Character (IPC). Only IPCs can issue tax deductible receipts. For a list of IPC charities, please search the Charity Portal at https://www.charities.gov.sg/Pages/AdvanceSearch.aspx.
Who can I give to?
A general reference of a gift to “the Church” is not good enough. Whilst you may have the general intention to give to “the Church”, there are many different entities within the Archdiocese of Singapore, as well as other Catholic entities. You should specify clearly which particular entity you want to give to, for example:
- The Titular Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore;
- Catholic Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore; or
- A particular parish or Catholic religious congregation.
You can also give, not to a particular Catholic entity, but to support a particular Catholic cause, for example, the social mission of the Catholic Church, evangelisation and faith formation, young people, Catholic schools, overseas missions etc. You may send an online inquiry on which organisation to make your gift to in order to best support your desired cause at https://www.catholic.sg/donate/.
Can I lay down conditions to my gifts?
Yes, you can. For instance, you may indicate that the cash bequest is intended for faith formation activities, or that it is specifically for the financially poor, in whichever organisation you have chosen.
How do I get this done?
Your bequest should be made in your Will. Please consult a lawyer to advise you on the appropriate clause to be included in your Will. You should ensure that you have the correct legal description of the entity that you wish to make a bequest to, as well as its UEN number, if any. If needed, your lawyer may contact the Catholic Lawyers Guild for clarification.
Note: This article is meant for general information only, and is not intended to promote fundraising for any particular clauses or organisation. Nothing in this article is to be taken to constitute legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Please make your own considered decision in your gifting and/or legacy planning.
Therese (not her real name) has willed all her assets to the Church. She did not specify any particular entity or cause because “I trust the Church to decide where to channel the funds – Archbishop William Goh is very wise and I enjoy listening to his homilies online.”
Aged 77 and with chronic health issues, she said, “I am giving everything I have to the Church. I have no children and I can’t take anything with me when I die, so I might as well give it away when I am still alive. I chose the Church, and not other charities, because the Church will always need money.”
Therese, who came from a Taoist family of eight children, was baptised in 2011 after going through the RCIA in Novena Church (which is not her current parish). She first learnt about Jesus in St Anthony’s Convent where she went to school. “I was closer to Our Lady than to Jesus, because I loved my late mother a lot. But I gradually learnt more about Jesus and drew closer to Him and the Holy Spirit through joining church talks and activities.”
It was only after her mother converted to Catholicism shortly before her death in 1999 that Therese seriously considered becoming a Catholic herself. “My grandfather was a medium, and my mother said that he could never get into a trance whenever her nyonya friend wearing a kebaya and praying the rosary was around! So, when my mother was 81 and ill in bed, she remembered my grandfather saying how strong the Christian God was, and she decided to get baptised.”
Prior to Covid-19, Therese used to attend Mass regularly and enjoy Bible-sharing and fellowship with her parish’s Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC). But her NCC stopped meeting during the pandemic and because she has difficulty booking Masses, she now only attends Mass mostly online. She looks forward to physical Mass though – “the experience is totally different and I can receive Jesus in Holy Communion and not just spiritual communion.”
Meantime, she said, “I read the Bible on my own. Queen Esther is one of my favourite characters. I hope to imitate her in dealing with my illness. She was very brave and trusted God a lot.”
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