We had some outstanding nominations for our Lake Travis Women to Watch feature and we are excited to feature our winner, Erin Thrash, Estate Planning Attorney at Thrash, Carroll, & Vanway Law Group in Lakeway. We loved learning about Erin and her strong roots in the Lake Travis area.
1)Tell me a little about yourself and family.
I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have 3 children and a grandson. I went to LSU and my husband went to UT. One of our sons was also a Longhorn but my daughter is a LSU Tiger so we have (or used to have) some fairly loud Fall football rivalries going on. My daughter now lives in Charlotte, NC but my boys live in Austin. We moved back to Austin in 1998. Because we all love animals, particularly horses, chickens and other birds, dogs, cats, we have 10 acres on Bee Creek. We have lived on Bee Creek since Bee Creek was “out in the country” and there was only 1 elementary school in LTISD, although now we have an elementary school a quarter mile from our home (Rough Hollow Elementary which is No. 7 I think!).
2)What made you decide to be an attorney and specialize in estate planning?
I like the structure and the challenges that the law provides.
I love estate planning because it incorporates many areas of the law, not one single discipline. Because families have different types of property and assets in their portfolios which make up their “estates”; for both the estate planning and asset protection facet of our practice we have to be able to advise clients on business law and entity formation, business succession planning, family law, tax law, retirement planning, real estate law, oil & gas law, and a dabble of bankruptcy in addition to elder issues, estate planning, probate and probate trust administrations. Our clients are entrepreneurial, physicians, corporate executives with large compensation plans and small and large business owners. We also have clients who have multiple homes or rental properties or commercial properties. Our attorneys are familiar with family law because many of our clients are blended families or have separate property or community property concerns as they move to Texas from a separate property state. Often, because we tend to form long-term relationships with our clients, the clients may marry or remarry or divorce during our representation, all of which impacts their planning.
There is always evolving law in our practice. For example, we recently had to learn cannabis law in anticipation of the legalization of cannabis (and the 2019 legalization of “hemp” law) in Texas. We are also gearing up for another dramatic change in estate tax law next year and are encouraging all of our clients to do some very important planning in preparation for the change in the estate tax exemption and significant changes in income tax law.
I am a problem solver so in addition to each case providing something new and interesting, I enjoy helping clients organize their planning and craft solutions to their unique family situations in the event of their death or incapacity. Each of our clients leave our office with a “black binder” which contains all of their legal documents as well as the other information that their successor decision-makers may need to carry out their wishes.
Since many of my clients have become friends over the years - it makes going to work every day even more fun and worthwhile.
3)What do you love about living in Austin?
Austin is dynamic, weird, beautiful, fun and interesting. I love the hill country where I ride my horse and the lakes where we fish, wake surf and boat. I can go downtown and feel like I am in a major city and 20 miles later be home and in the “country” (almost).
4)How are you involved in the community?
I have been a part of almost every organization out in the Lake Travis area that contributes to the wonderful community we live in, including the Rotary, Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce, BNIs, LT Education Foundation, PTAs, LTLov, Lake Travis Senior Services, Lakeway Police Foundation and I am sure I am leaving some out! I have contributed to or sponsored at various times Project graduation, LT baseball, football, softball, soccer and tennis teams. I try to always be aware of and contribute to causes for education, children, animals and the arts, especially if they are in this area, but I was also a founding member in Donna Gunn’s Africa’s Promise Village which has a school and water project in Tanzania. Our family foundation also contributes to causes we all care about annually - locally and outside of Austin.
5)What are your favorite charities?
I love charities that help people help themselves, so again any charity that promotes education, enlightens or protects children or animals, the arts. One of my favorite friends/clients introduced me years ago to therapeutic horsemanship for children with Autism and another to the international charity called Heifer International. In the law firm, our practice is to contribute, in our client’s memory, to the many charities that are trying to prevent cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, depression and other diseases, that our clients or their family members may suffer from, so we have a huge list of those donations annually.
6)What is your favorite animal and why?
Horses are my favorite animal because they are empathetic, smart and love you back. In a lot of ways, they are like dogs except a lot bigger!
7)If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Austin or since I actually live in Spicewood “just this side of weird”.
8)What advice do you have for young people who are at the beginning of their career?
COVID has really changed the definition of a “career” for this new generation. There was a lot of emphasis on networking and interaction involved in careers or finding a career you enjoyed pre-COVID, but I think, for now, the focus will be on their computer skills and abilities, education and training, less on their personal interactions. I would advise each person to identify their unique strength or “superpower” and then find something that allows you to use that superpower. For example I said I am a problem solver. There are a lot of “careers” that I could have found and used with problem-solving, but when I found estate planning I used it to solve my clients unique family estate planning and / or asset protection needs or issues and in doing that to become the very best attorney and proponent for my clients I could.