April 29, 2013
By Tela Mange
Matt Adamczyk brings a distinct perspective to Special Olympics, financial planning, and planned giving: he is a Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) parent (to Max, age 29) and financial advisor specializing in financial planning for families with special needs dependents.
His personal experiences help him assist families who are facing the same issues he has faced and is facing now. “I live this life,” he says. “Our family has faced and will face many of the same challenges, fears, hopes, and dreams as those I’m asked to advise.”
The Adamczyks moved to Texas from Michigan in 1994, when Max was 11. Max continued his participation in Special Olympics, a choice that was easy for the family, Matt says. “We chose it as a way to enrich Max’s life.”
Matt says that Special Olympics has helped Max in his personal growth, not just as an athlete. He plays bocce, bowls and runs track. His nickname on the Richardson Roadrunners is “Captain Relay” because he LOVES to run in relay races. He’s got a ready smile and has become more socially interactive because of his involvement with SOTX.
“He has poise and social confidence and he is more likely to initiate conversation,” Matt says. Physically, Max—who didn’t walk until he was 25 months old—walks better and runs better. “I can’t believe he runs track! Before Special Olympics, he never liked to run.”
Over the years, Matt has been a SOTX basketball coach in both team and individual skills. His wife, Linda, is currently a bocce coach. She has her five-year Special Olympics pin. Both have been pleased with the changes they’ve seen in Max as a result of his participation.
Putting on his Special Care Planner’s hat, Matt recommends that families regularly review and discuss financial and guardianship plans for their loved ones who have special needs. They especially need to make sure that a sibling is aware if they have been named as a successor guardian.
“Things change,” he says. “A sibling who, several years ago, was prepared to serve as the successor guardian, may have recently had other life events come up that would make it difficult for them to serve as the guardian, and the family needs to talk about that.”
There’s a balancing act in trying to integrate family financial planning with government support. “You want to make sure that your loved one is taken care of, so you want to be careful about how these assets are titled,” he says.
Other family members may make well-intentioned and loving decisions about inheritances or beneficiaries that seemed like a good idea, but then render the special needs family member ineligible for federal assistance. “Once that happens, it can take a long time and a lot of work to get re-qualified,” Matt says.
In the end, communication and planning are the keys to ensuring that a special needs family member will be well provided for once their parents or other guardians are no longer able to directly care for them. It’s important to have a “life-care plan” and involve the entire extended family so that everyone knows how best to leave assets to their loved one.
“All of us want the very best, most fulfilling and enriched life for our Special Olympics athlete. And we realize that one day we ourselves will no longer be able to care for them. Thorough life care planning, with annual reviews, will help families prepare for that day by providing access to information and specialists and preparing financial strategies that integrate with government programs,” Matt says.