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Thomas D. Zilavy

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  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
  • B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. Tax Court

For more than 40 years Tom has maintained a steadfast commitment not only to his career, but also to the community. He has donated his services to countless organizations because he believes every lawyer has a duty to serve the public interest. A few of the organizations Tom has been involved with include the United Way, Big Brothers, Planned Parenthood and Grace Episcopal Church. Whether serving as a director, trustee or officer, his contributions to community organizations are commendable.

Again, reflecting his commitment to the community, during the early years of his career, Tom helped the State Bar to lobby the Wisconsin Legislature to adopt one of the first child abuse laws which required teachers and others to notify authorities if child abuse was suspected. More recently, for more than seven years he was the Chair of the State Bar’s Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) Committee. In that capacity he was able to assist in convincing the Supreme Court to adopt a court rule defining what constitutes unlawful practice of the law in order to protect the public and create methods to deal with those doing so.

Tom represents a wide variety of clients ranging from small businesses, manufacturers and international businesses to financial institutions and charitable organizations. He has also represented a fair number of individuals in connection with a variety of legal problems.

Tom has published articles in Wisconsin Lawyer and given presentations to the State Bar of Wisconsin on the topic of Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) in Wisconsin. He has also presented numerous seminars to the State Bar of Wisconsin on the Uniform Commercial Code. For Production Credit Associations of the Midwest, he presented seminars on agricultural lending practices.

Although Tom is in phased retirement, he continues to faithfully serve his long-time business and individual clients and also assists new clients in locating the DeWitt lawyer that best meets their needs.

Notable Representations

  • General counsel for a large charitable foundation's representation before the IRS; tax exempt determination letters from IRS; structuring charitable gifts
  • Sale and purchase of business; liquidation
  • General counsel for manufacturing business with national or worldwide operations
  • Commercial real estate sales and purchases
  • Drafting complex commercial contracts
  • Counsel to financial institutions for regulatory matters, secured lending, and trust department operations

Service Area Subspecialties

  • Trusts & Estates
    • Estate Planning
    • Probate
    • Trust Administration