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David M. Thoms

Of Counsel | Email

  • Southfield

    t. +1.248.784.5093

    f. +1.248.603.9693

  • Kalamazoo

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David Thoms has extensive experience in gift and estate planning, wealth transfer, family business succession planning and nonprofit organizations, providing trusted legal counsel to individuals, families and businesses throughout the region. His practice also encompasses economic development incentives, commercial real estate finance and tax planning.



  • Wayne State University LL.M. (in Taxation) 1988
  • University of Detroit Mercy J.D. 1979
  • Wayne State University M.U.P. 1975
  • Kalamazoo College B.A. 1970


  • Michigan
  • New York


  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Probate and Estate Planning Section; Past Chairman, Charitable Trust Committee, Tax and Corporate Sections; Nonprofit Organization Committee
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Probate and Estate Planning, Real Property, Tax, Corporate and Environmental Law Sections
  • New York State Bar
    Trusts and Estates Section; Tax Section
  • The Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
    Probate Committee
  • Oakland County Bar Association, Probate Section
  • Kalamazoo County Bar Association, Probate Section
  • Fellow, Oakland County Bar Association Foundation

Teaching and Lecturing

  • Madonna University, former adjunct professor
  • New York University, Summer Tax Institute, 52nd Institute


  • French


Honors & Awards

  • Recipient of Vanguard Award by the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the ABA, 2019
  • Accredited Estate Planner, National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, 2018-Present
  • Who's Who in America and American Law, 1994-Present; Lifetime Achievement Award; Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Accredited Estate Planner, National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, 2018
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2015 Detroit Nonprofit/Charities Law Lawyer of the Year
  • Best Lawyers in America, Nonprofit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates, 2005-Present; Litigation-Trusts & Estates, 2012-Present; Tax Law, 2013-Present
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-08
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Five Star Professional Wealth Manager, HOUR Detroit and DBusiness, 2010-Present
  • Named a Top Lawyer in Nonprofit/Charities, Trusts and Estates and Tax Law by DBusiness, 2010-20
  • William Booth Award, The Salvation Army, Eastern Michigan Division, 2011
  • Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, French Government
  • La Medaille Paul Belmondo (Paul Belmondo Medal), Fondation Alliance Française, Paris, 2014
  • Prix Charbonnier, Federation of Alliances Françaises-USA, Inc.
  • Knight of the Order of Salvandor, Dali Museum, St. Petersberg, Florida
  • Vanguard Award, American Bar Association



Professional Affiliations

  • American Planning Association
  • Michigan Association of Planners
  • The Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc., 1981-Present
    President, 2016-Present; Vice President, 2015-2016; Director, 2011-Present; Secretary/Treasurer, 2014-2016
  • Planned Giving Roundtable of Detroit
  • Greenleaf Trust
  • Board of Directors, 2010-Present; Audit Committee, 2011-Present
  • Estate Planning Council of New York City, Inc.
  • Estate Planning Council of Western Michigan

Community Affiliations

  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
    Board of Directors, 2017-Present
  • Madonna University
    Board of Trustees, 2013-2017
  • French Institute Alliance Française
    (New York) Trophée des Arts Gala Committee, 2014-Present
  • Detroit Regional Chamber
    Graduate, Leadership Detroit XI
  • Henry M. Seldon Charitable Trust
    Secretary, Trustee, 2002-Present
  • The Salvation Army of Metropolitan Detroit
    Advisory Board; Past Chairman and Current Board Member, 1980-Present; Creating Impact Gold Ribbon Committee; Eastern Michigan Division, 2011 William Booth Award; Army of Stars Award, Shield of Service Award, 1988
  • Federation of Alliances Françaises USA Inc.
    Director, 2013-2016; Board Vice President, 2013-2014; Treasurer, 2014-Present; Board Member 1986-2002, 2007-2009; Past President
  • Alliance Française de Grosse Pointe
    Board 2010-2016; President, 2010-Present; Board Member, 1988-2016; Past President
  • French Festival of Detroit, Inc.
    Past President
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    Former Member, Board of Directors; Annual Fund Chairman; Founder, Planned Giving Advisory Committee; Governing Member, 2015-Present
  • Kalamazoo College
    Former Board of Trustees and Executive Committee Member; Admissions Committee Chairman; Founding Chairman, Planned Giving Advisory Committee
  • American Red Cross
    Southeast Michigan Chapter Executive Committee, Former Board Member; Former Member and Co-chairman of the Van Dusen Challenge Committee; Planned Giving Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Nurse Association, Inc.
    Board of Directors, March 2003-2015; Vice Chairman, 2010-2015; Corporate Secretary, 2004-2010
  • Greenhills School
    Planned Giving Technical Advisor
  • University of Michigan
    Kellogg Eye Center, Planned Giving Advisory Committee, 2002-2005
  • University of Detroit-Mercy
    Capital Campaign Advisory Committee, 2003-2009
  • Detroit Chamber Music Society
    Planned Giving Advisory Network, President's Advisory Council
  • American Society of the French Academic Palms
    Board Member, 2008-2011, Former Treasurer
  • Detroit Institute of Arts
    Tannahill Planned Giving Advisory Committee 2008-Present; Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1995-2000 and 2011-Present; Treasurer, 2011-Present; The Tanahill Advisory Committee, 2014-Present
  • Ford Health System
    Planned Giving Advisory Committee 2010-2016
  • Gibraltar-American Council, 2011-2016
  • Chidren's Hospital Foundation of Michigan
    Planned Giving Advisory Committee
  • Wayne State University
    Planned Giving Advisory Committee
  • French-American Foundation
    Board of Directors, 2013-Present
  • Knight Commander of the Order of Salvador, Dali Museum, St. Petersberg, Florida
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Detroit Chapter, 2011 National Philanthropy Day Volunteer of the Year
  • The Hillwood Museum and Gardens
    International Advisors Committee

Speaking Engagements

  • “Refresh the Governance, Include the Next Gen,” Family Foundation Retreat, Michigan Council of Foundations, Mackinac Island, Michigan, June 29, 2019
  • “The Important Role of Business Boards: Strategic Considerations Regarding Directors vs. Advisors and Oversight Opportunities,” Innovation Lunch-and-Learn Series 2019, Western Michigan Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Innovation Center, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 22, 2019
  • "Planned Giving Technique, Keep the Institution Healthy," Henry Ford Health System, Department of Philanthropy, October 2015
  • "Not for Profit Law in Michigan, Formation and Exemption Qualifications," Michigan Association of Certified Financial Planners, September 2015
  • "Planned Giving, a Primer," Children's Hospital Foundation of Michigan, October 2014
  • "Yes, Planned Giving Can Work for Smaller Charities: Be Methodic and Be Patient," Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, October 2014
  • "Form 990: Making it Picture Perfect & Helping the Board of Directors and Other Users Understand the Story Behind the Numbers," (Moderator), Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, Lansing, Michigan, June 11, 2012
  • "What is Old Might be New Again. BUT, What is Old? or Where Are We and Where Are We Headed, GST, Estate and Gift Tax Update," ICLE After Hours Tax Series, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 16, 2010
  • "Take Control of Your Legacy," (Panelist), Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan, October 16, 2010
  • "Trust Reformations, Modifications and Terminations Post Michigan's Trust Code (April 1, 2010), New Flexibility," Michigan Bankers Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 14, 2010
  • "IRS Gets Down to Business With Non-Profits," Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, Troy, Michigan, October 6, 2010
  • "Do's and Don'ts of Gift Receipts and Gift Agreements for Non-Profit Organizations," Federation of Alliances Françaises USA Inc. Workshop, February 18, 2010
  • "When Do Financial Advisors Have Trustee-like Duties?," Merrill Lynch Advisors, March 31, 2009
  • "Basic Ideas, Techniques, and Rules for Organizing Planned Giving Programs," Federation of Alliances Françaises USA Inc., October 2008
  • "Tax-Exempt Organizations in Michigan," Lorman Seminar, February 15, 2007
  • 46th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute (ICLE): "Drafting Tips to Retain or to Remove Trustees," 2006
  • Lorman Education Services, Tax-Exempt Organizations in Michigan Seminar: "Overview: Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan and Gaining Tax-Exempt Status from the IRS" and "Planned Giving," 2006
  • ABA Lecture: "Charitable Remainder Trusts—The Last Tax Shelter?"
  • New York University Summer Tax Institute: "Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving"
  • Financial and Estate Planning Council: "Getting the Client to the Table"
  • The Salvation Army: Training Sessions for Planned Giving Personnel
  • Detroit Athletic Club: Lunch Seminar Series "I did my documents. So what? Now what?"
  • Contributor: "Rights of the Elderly," an ACLU text authored by Robert N. Brown
  • University of Detroit Journal of Law: "Detroit Historic Preservation Ordinance: Almost Puts It All Together"

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