How to Write a Professional Will

Part 1: The Basics: defining terms and steps to getting the job done

Part 2: A sample professional will

Part 3: Questions we asked the CRPO

Folks, welcome to the motherlode! The American Psychological Association has done incredible work to make contingency planning and professional will creation a breeze! I don’t know why we don’t have the Canadian equivalent, but I didn’t find it in my research. (Then again, time was a factor so it might exist and if you have time to research that, let me know!). 

In this post, I share two sample documents you can use as your template, making adjustments in your own version for your individual practice. 

Disclaimer: This information was gathered through a number of sources, mostly from the American Psychological Association's guidelines for professional wills. Please do your own diligence when writing your contingency plans and professional wills.

Resources: 

  • Here is an excellent article on creating a professional will. (I could not find the same information on Canadian sites)
  • Specifically, here are the business management pages on the American Psychological Association website for how to close your practice: the ethical considerations, the business considerations, the legal implications.

Sample Professional Will

I have pilfered the will below from the APA site and changed references from Psychologist to Registered Psychotherapist.

(Credit: this sample will is from: “Professional Will Packet”) 

Sample Professional Will * 

NOTE: Italicized copy below appearing within brackets comprises notes and recommendations related to the sample will content. 

I, ________________________________, do hereby declare this to be my Professional Will. This document supersedes prior Professional Wills [if any exist]. This is not a substitute for a Personal Last Will and Testament. It is intended to give authority and instructions to my Professional Executor regarding my psychology practice and records in the event of my incapacitation or death. 

FIRST 

I am a practicing Registered Psychotherapist licensed in ___________________________. My license # is _______________________. [name of city in Ontario

My principal office address is_____________________________________________________________________________. 

In the event of my death or incapacitation, I hereby appoint as my Professional Executor ________________________, who has agreed to serve in this role. His/her phone number and email and mail addresses are _________________ ___________________________________. In the event that___________________ is unavailable or unable to perform this function, I hereby appoint as Secondary Professional Executor _______________________, who has agreed to serve in this role. His/her phone number and email and mail addresses are ___________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________. 

I hereby grant my Professional Executors full authority to: 

  • Act on my behalf in making decisions about storing, releasing and/or disposing of my professional records, consistent with relevant laws, regulations and other professional requirements. 
  • Carry out any activities deemed necessary to properly administer this professional will. 
  • Delegate and authorize other persons determined by them to assist and carry out any activities deemed necessary to 

properly administer this professional will. 

SECOND [If applicable

My attorney for this Professional Will is___________________________, whose phone number and email and mail addresses are _____________. The executor of my current personal will is_________________________, whose phone number and email and mail addresses are _________________________________________________________________. 

THIRD 

Copies of a separate “Files, Passwords, and Contacts List” are stored with copies of my Professional Will in the locations specified below in section FOURTH (B). This list is intended to be maintained and updated as needed to facilitate access to all relevant contacts, client records and other relevant documents, including all relevant hard copy and electronic files as well as back-up files. The list includes: 

  • Names and contact information for individuals who may be able to assist in locating/accessing my client records and other relevant professional documents (for example, colleagues, office staff, family) 
  •  Location and/or how to access current client records 
  •  Location and/or how to access past client records 
  •  Location and/or how to access my psychological test materials [if applicable] 
  •  Location and/or how to access my professional billing and financial records 
  •  Location and/or how to access my appointment book and client phone numbers 
  •  Location of the computer and other electronic devices used for my psychology practice 
  • Passwords for my computer and other electronic devices used for my psychology practice 
  •  My professional e-mail and website addresses 
  •  My office phone number and voicemail access code 
  •  Location and/or how to access my professional liability insurance policy 
  •  Location of any necessary keys you will need for access to my office, filing cabinets, storage facilities, etc. 

FOURTH 

My specific instructions for my Professional Executor are: 

A. First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation for your willingness to serve as my Professional Executor. 

B. There are four copies of this Professional Will. They are located as follows: one is in your possession; one is in the possession of my attorney; one is with my personal will; and one is with my professional liability insurance policy. 

C. Please use your clinical judgment and discretion in deciding how you want to notify current and past clients of my death or incapacity and whom to contact for further information, consistent with ethical and legal requirements. [Note: You may choose to provide more detailed instructions in this section. For example, you may wish to maintain a list of current and selected past clients who are to be notified of your death and/or any planned memorial services and to specify the location of such a list in this section.

D. If clinically indicated, for example by their response to notification of my death, you may wish to offer a face-to- face meeting with some clients. You may also wish to provide several referrals sources for current and past clients. Referral sources can, of course, include yourself. 

E. Please promptly notify my professional liability carrier of my death and arrange for any additional coverage that may be appropriate. Please also notify the College of Registered Psychotherapists. 

F. Please arrange for clients’ records or copies of their records to go to their new Registered Psychotherapist or other mental health professional, if applicable, with the clients’ consent. All remaining records should be maintained according to the relevant, most recent CRPO Practice Standards. [Related recommendation: Include in the informed consent document signed by clients at the outset of treatment a notification that if you die or become incapacitated, your Professional Executor may take control of records and contact clients.

G. You may bill my estate for your time and any other expenses that you may incur in executing these instructions. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the hourly rate of [or specify total amount] ___________ is acknowledged to be reasonable. [Notes: (1) You may wish to reinforce this commitment by also including it in your personal will. (2) If your practice is a corporation or LLC, you should consult with your attorney regarding whether your estate (instead of the corporation or LLC) should reimburse your professional executor.

I declare that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed at_____________________________________________________________ on___________________________ 

[location] [date] _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Signature 

WITNESSES 

Printed Name: ___________________________________ Signature: __________________________________________ 

Residing at: __________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Printed Name: ___________________________________ Signature: __________________________________________ 

Residing at:__________________________________________________________________________________________ 

*DISCLAIMER & ACKNOWLEDGMENT 

This Sample Professional Will is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining personal legal advice and consultation prior to making decisions regarding individual circumstances. Registered Psychotherapists are advised to consult an experienced attorney in order to prepare a professional will. This document is based on the San Diego Psychological Association Committee on Psychologist Retirement, Incapacitation or Death (SDPA PRID) sample “Professional Will”

(Credit: this sample will is from: “Professional Will Packet”) 

 

The next document below is the additional document template you can use for identifying and locating all your passwords and keys

Information for Professional Executor: Files, Passwords, and Contacts List 

I, _______________________, am providing the following information for use by my Professional Executor according to the provisions of my Professional Will, section FOURTH (B). Copies of this “Files, Passwords, and Contacts List” are stored with copies of my Professional Will in the following locations: one is in the possession of my professional executor; one is in the possession of my attorney; one is with my personal will; and one is with my professional liability insurance policy. 

This list is intended to be maintained and updated as needed and to include sufficient detail to facilitate access to all relevant professional documents including client contact information, client records and other relevant documents, including hard copy and electronic files as well as back-up files. 

  • Name of practice (if different from my name above):

____________________________________________________

  • Office address:  _______________________________________
  • Location of keys to office:_______________________________

Individuals who may be able to assist in locating/accessing my client records and other relevant professional documents: 

 Name:________________________________________________________________Relationship: (e.g., colleague, office staff, family member) 

____________________________________________________ 

Address:_______________________________________________________________ Phone: ________________________________ Email:__________________________ 

 Name:________________________________________________________________Relationship: (e.g., colleague, office staff, family member) 

____________________________________________________ 

Address:_______________________________________________________________ Phone: ________________________________ Email:__________________________ 

Appointment book/software and client contact information (e.g., phone numbers, email addresses, information on how clients prefer to be contacted):

 

Location:____________________________________________

Access: _____________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ________________________________________ 

Passwords (if any): ____________________________________

Current client records
Location: ________________________________________________

Access: _________________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ____________________________________________

Passwords (if any): _______________________________________

Past client records
Location: ________________________________________________

Access: _________________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ____________________________________________

Passwords (if any): _______________________________________ 

Psychological test materials (if applicable):
Location: ________________________________________________

Access: _________________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ____________________________________________

Passwords (if any): _______________________________________

Professional billing and financial records:
Location: ________________________________________________

Access: _________________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ____________________________________________

Passwords (if any): _______________________________________

Professional liability insurance policy:
Company and policy number:_____________________________________________________ 

Company phone number/email: ____________________________________

Location of policy:______________________________________

Access: _________________________________________________

Keys: (if any): ____________________________________________

Passwords (if any): _______________________________________ 

Computer and other electronic devices on which patient information is stored (including electronic backup if not listed above, e.g., external hard drive, cloud storage): 

Type of computer: ________________________

Type of device: __________________________

Type of device: __________________________ 

Type of device: __________________________ 

Location: _______________________ Password: ______________________ 

Location: _______________________ Password: ______________________ 

Location: _______________________ Password: ______________________ 

Location: _______________________ Password: ______________________ 

Professional practice telephone, e-mail, and website:
Phone number: _________________________ 

Voicemail access code: _____________ 

Email address: __________________________ 

Password: _______________________ 

Website address: ________________________ 

Password/How to access as an administrator:__________________________________ 

Additional professional files, filing cabinets, and/or storage facilities (if any):
Description, location, and how to access:_____________________________

(Credit: APA Services on their practice management pages.) 

 

Stay tuned for Part 3, Questions and Answers! Please leave your comments below. We'd love to hear them!


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