Areas of Practice

Aviation

Business and Corporate

Estate Planning

Thomas J. Hillegonds

Associate

Email: tjh@msblaw.com
Phone: 616-732-5000
Fax: 616-732-5099

As both a CPA and an attorney, Tom Hillegonds unravels, analyzes, and solves complicated and often related business, tax, and estate planning problems. For the individuals, family-owned or closely-held businesses, and tax-exempt organizations he represents, Tom’s ultimate goal is to provide timely and practical resolutions to his clients’ current legal issues and avoid those in the future through effective planning. 

Tom advises clients on the tax implications associated with real estate and commercial transactions, as well as the choice of business entity and corporate structure. His grasp of finance and accounting rules allows him to drive transactions toward a successful conclusion while focusing on favorable financial accounting and reporting treatment and tax-efficient results. 

And when disputes with the IRS or Michigan Department of Treasury arise, Tom defends his clients and resolve the controversy, whether through administrative appeals or formal litigation in the U.S. Tax Court or Michigan Tax Tribunal. 

In estate planning matters, Tom counsels individuals, spouses, parents with minor children, blended families, and families with special needs concerns. He prepares wills, guardianship and conservatorship documents, advance directives, and a variety of marital, special needs, and life insurance trusts. Because many high net-worth clients are also involved in family businesses, he advises on succession planning and various vehicles for optimizing asset value and transferring control of those assets efficiently while minimizing gift and estate taxes. 

When not hard at work for his clients, Tom spends time playing Chutes and Ladders with his kids and trying (in vain) to “two putt” each green on the local golf course with his wife. 

Representative Matters

Tom helped design a corporate and transactional structure for a commercial real estate development that needed to balance the receipt and repayment of bridge loan financing, monetization of tax credits, and interests of private investors. 

When the IRS assessed a U.S. client for millions in past due taxes, fraud penalties, and negligence penalties involving both U.S. business activity and foreign assets, Tom successfully negotiated settlement for a dramatically reduced amount while pursuing the case in U.S. Tax Court. 

For a divorced couple who wanted to set up dual life insurance trusts for the benefit of their three children, Tom devised a novel irrevocable trust arrangement that ensured the proceeds would be paid for the benefit of their children without the threat of later changes by either spouse. 

Bar Admission:

  • Michigan
  • U.S. Tax Court 

Education:

  • University of Florida College of Law, LL.M. in Federal Income, Estate, and Trust Tax Law, 2013 
    • Treasurer, TriGators Triathlon Club 
  • Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, Juris Doctor, 2009 
    • Emphasis in Federal Income, Gift, and Estate Tax Law 
    • Associate Editor of the Year (Phoenix Award), Ohio Northern University Law Review 
    • Tax Preparer and Student Coordinator, ONU Volunteer Income Tax Assistance 
    • Co-Founder and President, triathlon-focused ONU Multi-Sport Club 
  • Hope College, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, 2002 
    • Phi Kappa Alpha – Cosmopolitan Fraternity  
    • Study Abroad, Austro-American Institute of Education, Vienna, Austria

Honors & Awards:

  • Super Lawyers Rising Stars (Michigan) 
    • Taxation, 2017-18

Professional Associations and Membership:

  • State Bar of Michigan 
    • Business Law, Probate & Estate Planning, and Taxation Sections 
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association 
    • Business & Taxation Section 
  • Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Western Michigan Chapter 
    • Founder, Young Professionals Committee 
    • Member, Marketing Committee 
  • Michigan Business Brokers Association (MBAA) 
  • Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants 
    • Tax Reform Tax Force 

 

Community Involvement:

  • myTeam Triumph – National 
    • Director, Chairperson, and Treasurer, 2010 – 2016