Private Practice Success

Maria Gray,

Your Professional Will

Have you thought about who might take over your practice when you die?

As therapists, we have an ethical obligation to provide referrals for our clients should we die or somehow become incapacitated. This article will focus on creating a professional will. A professional will differs from a personal will, in that it is a set of instructions describing what needs to be done upon our death.

The first step is selecting your Executor. Just like with a personal will, your Executor should be someone you trust to carry out your instructions in a way that best serves you and your clients.

Elements of a professional will might include:

1. Directions for accessing your office, door code, keys, etc.
2. The location of your files, if they are electronic then your passwords.
3. If you have paper files, the location of the keys to your file cabinets.
3. The password for your voicemail.
4. A list of possible referral sources for your clients

Your Executor will need a list of your current clients and their contact information. I keep a copy of this list with my professional will in a folder, and I update it every year. In the event of my death, my Executor can use this list to easily contact my clients and recommend referrals. You’ll want to stay informed about HIPPA guidelines when preparing and updating your professional will.

Finally, you might consider including your wishes for your funeral, as some of your clients may ask your Executor if they can attend. I prefer that only my friends and family attend.

This article is just a starting place, you can include whatever items you’d like on your will and in whatever format feels comfortable for you.

Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in West Los Angeles.. Maria specializes in trauma and addiction. To learn more about Maria’s practice see Maria’s workshop, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Building a Profitable Private Practice but Were Afraid to Ask, is scheduled for Sunday, October 29th from 2-5PM in West Los Angeles. The workshop is suitable for licensed professionals, interns and students. To register, go to