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Overview

Estate Planning Attorney

David provides sophisticated counsel to individuals, families and businesses on gift and estate planning needs, wealth transfer issues and business succession planning. In addition to his law degree, he holds a degree in taxation and he frequently advises on economic development incentives, commercial real estate finance and tax planning. He is a sought-after presenter on issues related to estate planning, charitable giving and governance of nonprofit organizations, including family foundations.

David is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards, including the Vanguard Award from the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association. He is an accredited estate planner by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils.

For more information, please contact David Thoms at 269/553-3505 or dmthoms@varnumlaw.com

Leadership

Honors & Recognitions

American Bar Association, Nonprofit Organizations Committee, Vanguard Award, 2019

Best Lawyers in America®: Litigation-Trusts & Estates since 2012; Nonprofit/Charities Law and Trusts & Estates since 2005; Nonprofit/Charities Law Lawyer of the Year, 2015; Tax Law since 2013

DBusiness®, Nonprofit/Charities, Trusts and Estates and Tax Law, Top Lawyer since 2010

HOUR Detroit and DBusiness®, Five Star Professional Wealth Manager since 2010

Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated

Michigan Super Lawyers®, 2006 - 2008

National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, accredited estate planner since 2018

Who's Who in America and American Law, Lifetime Achievement Award

Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association: Charitable Trust Committee, Tax and Corporate Sections, past chairman; Nonprofit Organization Committee

American Planning Association

Detroit Bar Association, Probate Committee

Estate Planning Council of New York City, Inc.

Estate Planning Council of Western Michigan

Greenleaf Trust

Kalamazoo County Bar Association, Probate Section

Michigan Association of Planners

New York State Bar: Tax Section; Trusts and Estates Section

Oakland County Bar Association, Probate Section

Oakland County Bar Association Foundation, fellow

Planned Giving Roundtable of Detroit

State Bar of Michigan: Corporate Section; Environmental Law Section; Probate and Estate Planning Section; Real Property Section; Tax Section 

The Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc.: president, 2016; vice president, 2015 - 2016; director, 2011 - 2018; secretary/treasurer, 2014 - 2016

Community Involvement

Alliance Française de Grosse Pointe: past director; past vice president; past treasurer

Alliance Française USA, Inc.: past president, past vice president

American Red Cross

Children's Hospital Foundation of Michigan, Planned Giving Advisory Committee

Detroit Chamber Music Society, Advisory Committee

Detroit Institute of the Arts: Tannahill Planned Giving Advisory Committee, 2008 - present; Tannahill Advisory Committee, 2014 - present; past treasurer; Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, past member

Detroit Regional Chamber

Detroit Symphony Orchestra: past board member; Annual Fund, chairman; Planned Giving Advisory Committee, founder; governing member, 2015 - present

Ford Health System, Planned Giving Advisory Committee, 2010 - 2016

French-American Foundation, board, 2013 - present

Kalamazoo College: past board member; Admissions Committee, chairman; Executive Committee, past member; Planned Giving Advisory Committee, founding chairman

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, board, 2017 - present

Madonna University: past adjunct professor; board, 2013 - 2017

New York University, Summer Tax Institute, 52nd Institute, past lecturer

Salvation Army of Metropolitan Detroit: Advisory Board; Army of Stars Award, Shield of Service Award, 1988; board  member, past chair; Creating Impact Gold Ribbon Committee; Eastern Michigan Division, 2011 William Booth Award; Property Committee, chair

Wayne State University, Planned Giving Advisory Committee

News & Publications

Presentations

Michigan Council of Foundations, Family Foundation Retreat, "Refresh the Governance, Include the Next Gen," June 2019

Western Michigan Stryker School of Medicine, Innovation Lunch-and-Learn Series, "The Important Role of Business Boards: Strategic Considerations Regarding Directors vs. Advisors and Oversight Opportunities," May 2019

Henry Ford Health System, "Planned Giving Technique, Keep the Institution Healthy," October 2015

Michigan Association of Certified Financial Planners, "Not for Profit Law in Michigan, Formation and Exemption Qualifications," September 2015

Children's Hospital Foundation of Michigan, "Planned Giving, a Primer," October 2014

Federation of Alliances Francaises USA, "Yes, Planned Giving Can Work for Smaller Charities: Be Methodic and Be Patient," October 2014

Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, "Form 990: Making it Picture Perfect & Helping the Board of Directors and Other Users Understand the Story Behind the Numbers," moderator, June 2012

Industries

Education

Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan
LL.M., 1988

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

Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan
M.U.P., 1975

Kalamazoo College
Kalamazoo, Michigan
B.A., 1970

Bar Admissions

  • Michigan
  • New York

Court Admissions

  • All Michigan state courts
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan

Languages

  • French
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