What To Do with Your Practice If You Are Sick Or Dying?
Most of us have a vague notion of what retirement might look like but that’s where our planning usually stops. Getting sick or receiving a terminal diagnosis isn’t something that is easy to think about and is even more difficult to talk about. Nobody wants to contemplate their last moments in this world.
Sadly, we have all witnessed peers who have been thrown a curve ball and had an illness or untimely death. The aftermath of these events places a huge strain on our families. However, these stresses can be lessened with some discussion and at the very least, taking the steps now to get the right people in place when you need them.
An unexpected sickness can occur at the height of our professional careers. Depending on the prognosis, it’s critical to get our affairs in order as quickly as possible. Staff might suspect that something is amiss, and you can ask them to keep health issues confidential.
If you haven’t assembled a team already, start searching for a reputable estate-planning attorney and CPA. Also include the often-overlooked professional; a practice transition broker who can assist with the transition of your practice and can begin the process with you as soon as possible. Most widows/widowers are not thinking that the responsibility of selling the practice will fall on their shoulders. We recommend starting these delicate conversations with your spouse now, so they are not left to deal with this in addition to emotional stress.
If you are still able to work at your practice, we can begin to market the practice heavily but discretely so we can find a buyer as quickly as possible. The best medicine for you is to heal and take care of your family. Selling might seem short-sighted if you expect to make a full recovery, but there are many other options available if you still want to continue to work after you heal.
However, for those doctors who pass unexpectantly, word of mouth tends to get ahead of any marketing and the reality is that your practice will be marketed without a doctor and thus the practice value can decrease substantially. Some of the most difficult challenges that we have encountered are in serving spouses who are left to deal with quickly selling a practice when the doctor is sick or has passed away. The value of the practice drops sharply and is often valued at 30-40% less even after just one month without a doctor.
Prepare for the unexpected. Assemble your professional team and get your estate planning documents in order. Most importantly, make this information accessible and communicate your wishes with your spouse.
Life is short, spend your days doing what you enjoy and take care of your health.