Rhonda Brink specializes in estate and trust law and her practice addresses all aspects of family wealth management and disposition. Before Brink Bennett Flaherty, for many years, Rhonda was the supervising shareholder of the wealth transfer section of a major Austin law firm. She was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974. Rhonda's education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Trinity University in 1971 and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1974.
Rhonda is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and was admitted as the first female Fellow in Texas of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC”). Rhonda has served as Past Chair and board member of the Estate Planning and Probate Section of the Austin Bar Association, Past President of the Central Texas Estate Planning Council, and Past President of Austin Lawyers Care (the initial Travis County pro bono legal services referral organization). Rhonda is a frequent speaker at State Bar of Texas Professional Development programs and spoke regularly in the past at ALI-ABA Estate Planning and Administration Programs around the nation. Rhonda has twice served on the faculty of the University of Miami, Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, and served as Director of the 1999 State Bar of Texas Professional Development Program--Advanced Estate Planning Strategies Course in San Francisco. She has also presented at national ACTEC meetings on topics ranging from Non-Marital Status Issues in Estate Planning for Committed Couples (2012 Annual Meeting with co-speakers, Joshua S. Rubenstein, New York, NY, and Anne Wynne, Ikard Wynne, LLP, Austin, TX) and “Until Divorce Do Us Part” – the impact of divorce in estate planning (2014 Summer Meeting with co-speaker, Dennis Belcher, McGuire Woods, Richmond, Virginia).
Rhonda has been listed in the Best Lawyers of America since 1995 and has been recognized by Texas Monthly as a "Super Lawyer" in her field of expertise since 2002, and in 2003 as one of Texas' top Fifty Female "Super Lawyers." She has been selected for membership in the inaugural and recurring editions of the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry of Preeminent Women Lawyers. She was selected as one of 2015's Women Leaders in the Law, as published in the March 2016, Best Lawyers, first-ever Women in the Law Edition.
Rhonda serves on the Austin Gift Planning Advisory Council of the University of Texas at Austin. Rhonda was one of four Texas attorneys selected to receive the Standing Ovation Award for 2008 – a recognition of CLE volunteers by the Texas Bar CLE staff.
Rhonda is supported in her efforts by her husband of thirty-six years, Robert L. Green, Jr., and three children: Brian and family living in Austin, Texas, with three of Rhonda's grandchildren; Lynn, a Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine, practicing and living with family in San Antonio, Texas, to whom Rhonda’s fourth grandchild was born in 2015; and Leslie, graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, now working in New York City as an assistant social media editor for “SELF”, a Conde Nast publication. Rhonda is both a former and current Deacon and former member of the Foundation Board and Strategic Planning Committee at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. She enjoys, time permitting, weekends at "The Brierpatch," her little farm in Burleson County, Texas, or at her husband's family home on the bay in Rockport, Texas.→ Email Rhonda Brink
Frances Bennett's practice areas include all aspects of estate planning, tax planning, and probate administration, including wills and trusts, probate, fiduciary litigation, marital property planning, and private business planning. She structures and implements advanced estate-planning techniques, including business succession plans, grantor retained annuity trusts, and installment sales to grantor trusts. She is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Prior to attending law school at St. Mary's School of Law, where she received her J.D. in 1992, Frances was a successful business owner who founded a wholesale import business that concentrated in specialty foods. Since then, she has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that has led her to where she is today.
Frances' professional involvement has been extensive. She has been a chair of the Estate and Inheritance Tax Committee of the State Bar of Texas. Her past experience includes a position as a Law Clerk for the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit with The Honorable Homer Thornberry, as well as a position as a Law Clerk in the Southern District of Texas for The Honorable Ricardo H. Hinojosa. She served as a law clerk for the Texas Supreme Court and worked as an intern for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She is a member of both the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Tax Study Group.
More than just an expert within her field, Frances is also passionate about the arts and philanthropy. She enjoys applying her expertise in charitable giving and fundraising to support local nonprofit organizations, such as the Mamma Jamma Ride for Breast Cancer, the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, the Boys and Girls Club, the Crayon Club and iACT. Her involvement in the arts includes her role as president of the Board of Austin Theatre alliance, parent company of The Paramount and State Theatres, her position as a board member of Zachary Scott Theater, and her membership in the Austin Symphony League.→ Email Frances Bennett
Jason Flaherty's practice areas include all aspects of tax planning, estate planning, and private business planning. He assists business owners, professionals, executives, and high net-worth individuals and families. In his practice, Jason drafts wills and trusts, structures and implements advanced estate-planning techniques, including business succession plans, grantor retained annuity trusts, and installment sales to grantor trusts. He also assists with probate and trust administration, as well as the preparation and filing of estate and gift tax returns. He also has substantial experience representing clients in the acquisition and ownership of private jets to ensure compliance with the legal requirements of aircraft ownership, including with sales, use, property, and income tax law.
Prior to attending law school at Northwestern University School of Law, Jason worked for over six years as a financial analyst in the telecommunications industry. He has significant experience in discounted cash flow analysis and business valuation.
In terms of his professional credentials, Jason is a certified public accountant and is board certified in estate planning and probate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is admitted to practice law in Texas, Missouri, and the U.S. Tax Court. He has also been named a Texas Super Lawyer by Law and Politics as seen in Texas Monthly.
Jason has presented on numerous topics, including Advanced GRAT Planning; The New Texas Franchise Tax; and Family Limited Partnership Tax Traps & Planning Opportunities. He has served as President of the Estate Planning and Probate Section of the Austin Bar Association. He has been chair of the Estate and Gift Tax Committee of the State Bar of Texas; volunteer admissions interviewer at Northwestern University School of Law; and volunteer attorney with Volunteer Legal Services. He is a member of the Austin Bar Association and was a trustee with his friend and colleague, Frances Bennett, at the Zach Scott Theatre.→ Email Jason Flaherty
Shelly Fristoe's practice areas consist of all aspects of fiduciary litigation including will contests, trustee liability, executor liability, beneficiary disputes, probate administration, as well as the fiduciary aspects of commercial litigation. His trial experience has involved trying over two dozen cases to verdict. Shelly has practiced before federal and state administrative agencies and has participated in arbitration hearings as an alternative to civil trials.
The path to practicing law began with Shelly's success at Texas Tech School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1989 as a member of the National Mock Trial Team, as well as the ATLA Mock Trial Team. In his practice, Shelly defends executors and beneficiaries in will contests; he prosecutes executor claims on behalf of estates; he compels timely accountings and distributions of estates; and he removes trustees and executors for breaches of fiduciary duty.→ Email Shelly Fristoe
Gabriel Gallas' practice areas include all aspects of estate planning and probate and trust administration. Gabriel attended South Texas College of Law after working for several years as a financial analyst for World Savings Bank. He received his J.D. in November of 2009, and in 2010, he joined the Bennett Flaherty team.
In his practice, Gabriel counsels executors and trustees, including professional trust departments; he designs plans to protect personal and family assets; he guides professionals, individuals, and families through the estate planning process; and he plans for the transfer of family wealth and values to later generations. He also accepts appointments from the Probate Court to serve as attorney ad litem in probate and heirship proceedings. He is admitted to practice law in Texas and is a member of the Austin Young Lawyers Association and of the Probate and Estate Planning Law Section of the Austin Bar Association.
Outside the office, Gabriel frequently volunteers for Austin Lawyer Referral Service's LegalLine. He is also a member of the Austin Film Festival, the Paramount and Stateside Theatres, and ECHO, a non-profit organization committed to ending homelessness in Austin.→ Email Gabriel Gallas
Hazel Sanchez's practice includes all aspects of estate planning and probate, including Wills and trusts, wealth transfer strategies, creation and succession of closely owned businesses, structuring grantor retained annuity trusts, committed couple planning, marital property agreements, probate and estate administration, and estate and gift taxation. She is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Prior to joining the firm, her practice in Louisiana, and later in Texas, included probate, real estate, commercial litigation and transactions, personal injury and professional negligence litigation, and family law.
Hazel received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University of New Orleans, School of Law. She was licensed in Louisiana in 1987 and in Texas in 2005.
Hazel is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest ranking for competence and ethical standards. She has been selected as a Top Rated Lawyer in Trusts and Estates by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell. She is a member of The College of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas and Louisiana Bar Associations, the Austin Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Probate Section, and the Texas Bar Association’s Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section.
Hazel has written and presented on the topics: Key Provisions in Wills & Trusts that Can Make or Break You, State Bar of Texas, June 26, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas, and Putting It All Together: Strategies for Intermediate Planning, State Bar of Texas, June 25, 2013, Houston, Texas.
Her philanthropic interests include the St. Jude Children's Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project, St. Edward's University, and Knowbility, a non-profit dedicated to making the web more accessible for those with disabilities.→ Email Hazel Sanchez
The Brink Bennett Flaherty staff is headed by Cherryl Baethge, the office manager and acting paralegal in estate planning and probate. Cherryl Baethge has been working as a paralegal in the area of estate planning and probate since 1992 and has been with the firm since its inception.→ Email Cherryl Baethge
Margaret Sheehan has worked as a Legal Assistant for firm principal Rhonda Brink since 2007. She enjoys listening to stories, and she finds working with our elderly clients especially rewarding. Margaret has a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin, and she is also a proud Longhorn Mom. Her daughter recently earned her Girl Scout Gold Award – the highest achievement in girl scouting.→ Email Margaret Sheehan
Jordan Cotton, Legal Assistant at Brink Bennett Flaherty, attended The University of Texas at San Antonio where she studied Business Administration in Management with a concentration in Small Business/Entrepreneurship. She has owned and operated two companies since graduating in 2009. She enjoys working in the legal field and expanding her knowledge in different business sectors.
As a Legal Assistant, Ms. Cotton oversees the daily operations of Brink Bennett Flaherty and is often the first resource and contact for clients. She is happily married and a proud mother of two boys who enjoys spending her “free” time relaxing with her family, traveling, eating great food, and cheering for her sons in all of their activities→ Email Jordan Cotton