Photo of David M. Thoms

David M. Thoms





Wayne State University Law School, LL.M. Taxation, 1988

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, J.D., 1979

Wayne State University, M.U.P. 1975

Kalamazoo College, B.A. 1970

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. District Court

  • Eastern District of Michigan


When it comes to business, estate and succession planning matters, David Thoms adheres to a “big picture” approach in order to obtain individualized optimum results.

With his practice focused upon closely held business owners, he assists them with everything from tax issues, to corporate organizational matters, to real estate decisions, and succession planning issues.

His “big picture” approach applies to his representation of nonprofit and charitable organizations as well. In that arena, the inter-relationship of policy, tax, compliance, governance and fundraising must be considered as part of the whole picture in order to reach appropriate solutions on nearly all matters.

Representative Matters


Who's Who in America, 1997-present

Who's Who in American Law, 1994-present

Who’s Who in the Midwest, 22nd, 1990-1991, 26th, 1999-2000

Who’s Who in the World, 1995, 17th, 2000-present

Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America, 4th, 1993-1994

Best Lawyers in America, 2015 Detroit Non-Profit/Charities Law Lawyer of the Year; Non-Profit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates 2005-present; Litigation-Trusts & Estates 2012-present; Tax Law 2013-present

Michigan Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate, Closely Held Business, Non-Profit 2006-2008

ALM/Martindale Hubbell, AV Top Rated Lawyer in Trusts and Estates, 2015

2007 Website Listing, Best of United States, Trust and Estate and Taxation Lawyers, Michigan

Five Star Professional Wealth Manager, HOUR Detroit and DBusiness 2010-present

DBusiness Magazine, Top Lawyers, Banking, Nonprofit/Charities and Trusts and Estates, 2010-present

Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques, French Government

The Salvation Army, Army of Stars Award, Shield of Service Award, 1988

La Medaille Paul Belmondo (Paul Belmondo Medal), Fondation Alliance Francaise, Paris, 2014

Prix Charbonnier, Federation of Alliances Francaises-USA, Inc.

Knight of the Order of Salvador, Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL

The Salvation Army, Eastern Michigan Division, 2011 William Booth Award

Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Detroit Chapter, 2011 National Philanthrophy Day Volunteer of the Year

Professional Activities

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, Probate and Tax Sections

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Probate Committee

American Planning Association

Michigan Association of Planners

The Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc., 1981-present; Director 2011-present; Secretary/Treasurer, 2015-present

Planned Giving Roundtable of Detroit

American Society of the French Academic Palms, Board of Directors

Greenleaf Trust, Board of Directors 2010-present; Audit Committee 2011-present

Estate Planning Council of New York City, Inc., Member

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

Madonna University, Board of Trustees, 2013-present

Michigan Colleges Alliance, Corporate Secretary; Executive Committee Member; Trustee 2004-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

Federation of Alliances Francaises-USA Inc., Director, 2013-2016; Board Vice President, 2013-2014; Treasurer, 2014-2015; Board Member 1986-2002, 2007-2009; Past Treasurer; Past President

Alliance Francaise de Grosse Pointe, Board 2010-present; President 2010-president; Board Member 1988-2004; 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

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-present; Vice Chairman, 2010-present; 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

American Society of the French Academic Palms, Board Member 2008-2011

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

Ford Health System, Planned Giving Advisory Committee 2010-present

Gibraltar-American Council, 2011-present

French-American Foundation, Board of Directors, 2013-present


Madonna University, former adjunct professor

New York University, Summer Tax Institute, 52nd Institute


"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 Francaises - 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 and Dont's of Gift Receipts and Gift Agreements for Non-Profit Organizations," Federation of Alliances Francaises-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 Francaises-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: Section on "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"


"Nonprofits Take Note: New Form 990 Filing Requirements Are Coming," Hot Points, Spring 2008