The Pittsburgh Foundation

Meet 2023 Partner in Philanthropy Award Winner Matt Schwartz

Matt Schwartz stands outside his office in Squirrel Hill. Photograph by Joshua Franzos.

As told to Christian Pelusi, senior Communications officer for The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Matt Schwartz began his legal career as a benefits attorney but found his passion was for guiding clients as a retirement and estate planning attorney, placing an emphasis on supporting his community. “With estate planning, I enjoy the combination of utilizing people skills -- interviewing, listening and connecting -- and the analytical skills of my math background [he was an applied math major at Northwestern University] – to help devise creative allocations of assets among charities, children and grandchildren.” Earlier this year, Matt and his partner, John Montoya, formed Schwartz Montoya Legal, LLC to carry on the work that their previous employer, Lange Legal Group, LLC., excelled at for more than 30 years. On Nov. 30, Matt will be honored by our Foundation as the the recipient of our Partner in Philanthropy award for his commitment to our Foundation and community, joining David DelFiandra and Shana Bielich

On getting people to think philanthropically

People feel good about giving back to the community and government resources do not fully provide for society’s needs. When people feel good about what you helped them accomplish, you both feel good about how you helped them, and they want to have their friends meet you so that you can provide them with a similar experience. And that's where The Pittsburgh Foundation really shines.

I had a client who passed away five years ago. He created a fund help to provide educational opportunities for pre-K children in minority neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area. He came from a very humble background, and became very, very successful. But he thought it was important to give back and it was important to give opportunities to communities that didn't have the head start that he was able to get. So he knew that The Pittsburgh Foundation would lead him in the right direction and he just pretty much said, take care of it, and he knew it would be taken care of. I think that's the fundamental difference between The Pittsburgh Foundation and a Fidelity Schwab Charitable Fund is that ability to have input in developing your own community vision. Things like the giving circles that the Foundation does give people the opportunity to talk about what's happening in Braddock, for instance, and try to come up with some solutions and ideas.

On teaming with The Pittsburgh Foundation to support his clients’ role in the community

As I became more charitably engaged, I was attracted to the perpetual nature of giving through donor-advised funds and other long-term charitable vehicles. I believe The Pittsburgh Foundation is the go-to resource of learning about philanthropic opportunities to give to specific areas of charitable interest in the Pittsburgh area. I know that The Pittsburgh Foundation will provide a client with viable and sensible solutions of helpful local charities to fulfill a client’s charitable intent whether a client wants to provide for early childhood education for minority communities or wants a permanent place to house their pet.

On the current landscape for estate planning

The focus for most people is minimization of income taxes since the estate tax exemption is so high.  Being that Pittsburgh has an older population, there is a healthy demand for our services. Most people are too worried about court and attorney fees and not focused enough on what needs to be done with assets outside of their will to effectuate their estate planning intent.

On common misconceptions about estate planning

1. It’s only for the rich – Everyone should think about who they want to carry out their affairs and how they want their assets distributed.

2. Focus on family only – If you do not ask about charities or relatives other than children, then you might not effectuate the true wishes of a client. Clients often do not know the possibilities and our role as attorneys and advisors is to educate them about their options.

3. It’s too complicated – Yes, there are certain situations where estates and trusts are complex.  However, most situations that seem complicated on their face have straight forward solutions that will greatly simplify distribution to family members and provide overall peace of mind.

Since 2007, Matt has referred more than 30 clients to The Pittsburgh Foundation. He also dedicates time to the Allegheny Tax Society and Temple Emanuel of South Hills.