Do you have an Emergency Directive, or “Will for your Practice”?

Dr. Austin had no idea what was about to happen to his family and his practice when he left for work that Tuesday in March.

Dr. Austin’s wife answered her phone to hear the voice of a police officer who would go on tell her that her husband was in a car accident and he had died.

What took place over the next few days was a nightmare. She told their children that their father had died and went on to tell her husband’s parents, siblings and then his team. She planned her husband’s funeral and did her best to comfort their children.

She held it together until she was asked what she planned to do with her husband’s dental practice. She broke down and lost it. She had no idea what to say. The following weeks were a blur. In the middle of dealing with her own grief and that of her children and family, she was faced with taking care of the details of the practice and determining the employment future for members of his team. The team was mourning the loss of their boss. In addition, they had no idea whether they still had a job. What about the patients? What should they be told? The office administrator had no choice, she had to ask questions.

Mrs. Austin was in no frame of mind to make decisions. She told the team to close the doors and file for unemployment for the time being. She had no idea when she would be able to deal with the practice. Soon she was approached by a variety of people interested in buying this part or that part of the practice. Mrs. Austin had no idea what anything was worth and took the words of those offering to purchase the equipment, instruments and supplies. She gave the data base to a Dentist who offered to take care of Dr. Austin’s patients. She did not know how or what to charge for the patient base. She watched as her husband’s practice was picked apart and sold off in pieces.

When a dentist dies without an emergency directive in place, protecting the value of his/her practice is nearly impossible. The value of a dental practice will typically fall between 5% and 15% per week upon the death of the dentist. When this happens, the dentists’ family and team members suffer the most.

You can prevent this from being the fate of your practice and your professional Legacy!

Every dental practice owner should have an Emergency Directive (a Will for the Dental Practice).

The Emergency Directive should provide clear instructions as to who to call and where to find every essential document needed. It should provide contact information for your insurance agents, and pertinent information about your policies. The directive should provide directions on how to contact members of your team, it should provide essential account numbers and passwords, and give directions to obtain practice management reports, and where to find personnel files. An emergency directive should provide information regarding tax returns, profit and loss reports, as well as alarm codes, banking and credit card information, and admin passwords.

Your emergency directive should be provided to 1) a trusted financial or legal advisor, 2) someone within your immediate family and 3) a close family member or friend you trust outside of your immediate family (this will be your point person). Keep in mind that it is completely possible for your spouse and children to be with you at the time of an accident. You must plan for the worst. Assuming your family is not with you, like Mrs. Austin, they will not be of a state of mind to make the important calls and decisions required to take care of your practice in time to protect the practice value.

You can protect your family, your team and your practice by starting an Emergency Directive today.

About Mary Fisher-Day

Founder and CEO of The Dental Business.

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