Trusts – Best Practices in the New Estate Planning Paradigm


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Trusts is a common term you often hear when people speak about estate planning.  Trusts however can be complicated.  To help the public better understand some of the basic issues surrounding Trusts, our guest expert Dennis L. Nerland, QC shares some of his wisdom and expertise.

During our podcast (taped telephone interview) Dennis addresses the following questions:

  1. What is a trust?
  2. What are the benefits of a trust and why are they commonly used?
  3. What are some examples of today’s common uses of trusts?
  4. What is the most important consideration in establishing a trust?
  5. What is the most common mistake advisors & clients make in designing & operating Trusts?
  6. What are the generally accepted practices in the current trust-scape?
  7. Why a new trust-scape?
  8. What leading edge practices do you expect to see adapted over the next 10 years as the new trust-scape develops?
  9. What is the new highest bar for trustees and beneficiaries?
  10. What are the best practices for trustees / beneficiaries meetings?


We wish to thank Dennis Nerland, QC for joining our project and encourage our audience to listen and learn from him.


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About Dennis Nerland, QC, Partner, Shea Nerland LLP

I am one of the three founding partners of Shea Nerland LLP, and lead our tax & estate planning practice.

I received a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Calgary in 1975.  Further pursuing my education, I received a Master of Arts Degree in Economics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario in 1976 and finally, a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Calgary in 1979.

I have completed the Rotman / Haskayne Directors Education Program and achieved the designation of Institute-Certified Director (ICD.D) from the Institute of Corporate Directors in 2011. I have also successfully completed the Rotman Financial Literacy Program and am a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Planners (“STEP”) and have achieved the Trust and Estate Practitioner (“TEP”) designation.

I work closely with our cross border specialists and corporate lawyers in providing innovative and effective succession solutions for Canadians with property abroad, and for foreign residents holding Canadian property.

In 2014, I was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (“QC”) of Alberta.


  • Rotman/Haskayne Directors Education Program, 2011, Rotman School of Management
  • University of Calgary, 1979, Juris Doctor
  • Carleton University, 1976, Master of Arts in Economics
  • University of Calgary, 1975, Bachelor of Science with Honours in Mathematics and Economics

Call to the Bar

  • 1980, Law Society of Alberta

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Law Society of Alberta
  • Member, Canadian Tax Foundation
  • Member, Calgary Bar Association
  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
  • Institute-Certified Director (ICD.D)

Recent Media

The blueprint for a border-adjustment tax – January 31, 2017 (

Team approach key to family wealth protection, management – December 1, 2016 (

Profit shifting concerns ‘overstated’ given corporate objectives – October 11, 2016 (

Performance-based law firm culture a valuable asset – October 3, 2016 (

Trustee duties extend to relational, financial issues – July 27, 2016 (

Dennis Nerland Tackles Complex Tax Issues with Unique Skill Set – May 31, 2016 (

Shea Nerland Law

About Shea Nerland:

We face every tax law, business law and litigation challenge with courage and care, while putting your experience at the centre of our work. We set a higher bar for the way you experience law.

What does a higher bar mean? It means putting you at the centre of our practice. The experience you have with us will be different from what any other law firm can offer. Only Shea Nerland offers genuinely passionate, caring legal counsel.

We understand that you have options when it comes to legal advice, which is why we work every day to exceed your expectations. You can count on us to create tailored solutions to complex problems. We chase the challenging, and we’ll never back down from the obstacles you may face.

Work with the Shea Nerland team and find out what a higher bar really means.


Our Legacy:

We’ve always practiced law differently from others. See how we’re preparing the next generation to continue the tradition of non-tradition.

Picture this: three young men, each wearing their only suits. They’re standing in a small office furnished with three second-hand desks, three computers and an unruly fax machine.

That’s Jim Shea, Dennis Nerland and David Calnan on the day Shea Nerland first opened its doors in 1990. The space was modest, but the founders’ excitement filled the room. They were lawyers with an entrepreneurial hunger, three lawyers who wanted to create a smaller, more agile firm where clients would receive personal treatment and customized cutting-edge solutions.

In this spirit, our founders set the tone for the lawyers who work at Shea Nerland today. It’s what has and always will set this firm apart. Our lawyers have the capacity to rise to challenges, take risks, push boundaries and transform lives.

From the start, Shea Nerland has practiced law differently from other firms in Calgary. We take on clients with tough legal challenges that require non-traditional solutions. Why? Because we believe that seemingly ordinary people – be they business owners, entrepreneurs, or lawyers – are capable of putting in the extra effort and extra creativity needed to achieve something extraordinary.

Now, we’re inspiring our young leaders to keep this spirit of non-tradition alive. In our office, we create opportunities for our people to practice in their own ways. In ourselves, we question the conventional and embrace the unsolvable. In our relationships, we continually strive to centre law around creating the best client experience.

Ultimately, we are distinguished by the relationships we have with you, our client. We invest in you, and together, we accomplish extraordinary things.

Meet the lawyers who are carrying the Shea Nerland legacy into the future. Get to know our team.

1400, 350 - 7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2P 3N9

Phone: 403.299.9605, Cell Phone: 403.828.9605, Email: Visit Website

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