Be prepared: appoint a therapeutic executor
What would happen to your therapy business, your clients, and their records, if you were suddenly unable to continue? What if the practice had to be closed due to death, serious illness or an emergency?
It’s something we don’t like to think about. However, no matter how old we are, or how healthy we might be, we have a professional and ethical obligation to prepare for the unexpected.
Every private practitioner should appoint a therapeutic executor and have the right plans in place.
A therapeutic executor is the person, often a colleague, who has the primary responsibility to deal with either the temporary or permanent closure of your practice in the event of your sudden death, illness or emergency. They will ensure that clients are notified and referred, confidential records are protected and financial matters are dealt with.
Tip: if possible, don’t entrust this role to a close friend or family member - they may be unable to act quickly, professionally or impartially.
Guidance for your therapeutic executor
So: you’ve appointed your therapeutic executor. Now what?
To make sure you’re fully prepared, you should create a report containing guidance for your therapeutic executor. In the event of your death, this will act as a professional will. This should be kept somewhere totally secure, such as a security box in a bank, with your solicitor, or at least in a fixed safe.
Before you start:
Make sure the contact details of your therapeutic executor are given to at least two trusted individuals, as well as information about where your report can be found. There’s no point you knowing, if no-one else does! It’s also wise to designate a second in command - someone who can take over if your first choice is unavailable.
Here’s our guide to what your report should include:
1. Contact information about your accountant, bookkeeper, bank, secretary, insurance provider, and so on.
2. Your office address, and where each key to your office, filing cabinets etc can be found, together with any security codes.
3. Your computer password(s) including email accounts and log in details for any software you may use.
4. Information about where you keep your diary or appointment book, your client records, and your computer back-ups.
5. Instructions about who will be responsible for contacting your clients and how they should be contacted (for example, by phone).
6. Details of other private practitioners or organisations who will accept referrals for ongoing clients.
7. Information about where you keep your financial records, how to access them, and how to handle outstanding invoices or payments.
8. Instructions about how your therapeutic executor has agreed to be compensated for their work - for example, will they be paid an hourly rate, a flat fee, or will their services be voluntary?
Tip: it’s a good idea to review this report, or professional will, alongside your own personal will, and, if you are at all unsure, seek advice from a solicitor. Your professional body may also be able to provide advice about appointing a therapeutic executor.