What Is A Therapist Will?

A Therapist Will is a professional will for the purposes of providing for continued treatment of a psychotherapist’s clients and maintenance/destruction of clinical files in the event the therapist becomes incapacitated or dies.  TherapistWill.com provides a practical, low cost solution so that you can create your personalized document and meet this important obligation.

Mental health providers are required to plan for the continued care of patients and the proper handling of clinical files in case of death or incapacity.  This is done in order to avoid treatment disruption and to maintain patient confidentiality.  This obligation involves various ethical rules as well as state and federal laws and regulations.  Under federal law (and many corresponding state laws), only other professional healthcare providers may handle another provider’s clinical files when a colleague becomes incapacitated or dies.  Patient confidentiality must be guarded by properly storing clinical files, and these files must be maintained for a minimum number of years.  States vary on the rules for the number of years files must be kept.

TherapistWill.com has utilized psychotherapists and estate planning attorneys to create a robust solution for instructing key people on procedures for meeting the obligations of providing for continued patient care and proper clinical file handling.  The Therapist Will is molded in the vein of a traditional will or living trust.  It is designed to take the reader through an orderly set of defined steps while giving the appropriate amount of freedom to trusted colleagues so that they can use their best judgment for handling patient referrals and storing clinical files. 

Because it was fostered by estate planning attorneys, the Therapist Will professional will includes backstops not available in other similar products.  While such backstops are common in documents created by estate planning attorneys, most other people would not think of them.  For example, many similar products name a team of clinicians who will take control of clinical files, but they do not institute a procedure for choosing a new clinician in case the named people are unwilling or unable to assist.  Also, most similar products on the market do not address the possibility that a professional will might conflict with a traditional will or trust.  The Therapist Will addresses that issue by making it clear that the traditional estate planning documents govern where there is a conflict.  This reduces confusion, and it could potentially eliminate the need for court intervention in some cases.

Because TherapistWill.com was development in conjunction with psychotherapists as well as attorneys, we understand that many professionals want to leave certain instructions with respect to passing on their practices which are broader than referring patients to appropriate clinicians and storing clinical files.  But trusts and estates attorneys often see the unfortunate results of the many pitfalls people unintentionally create when doing their own estate planning.  That is why the Therapist Will is designed to give restricted options with regard to certain choices while leaving an entire section in which you can include whatever instructions you would like with regard to the broader issues.  We call this the “Exhibit A” section of the Therapist Will. 

The Exhibit A section

The Exhibit A section of the TherapistWill provides the freedom for you to give instructions that are important to you.  We cannot anticipate what would be important to you, so we leave you with complete control of the Exhibit A.  You may want to leave practical instructions such as voice mail codes and locations of keys to file cabinets in your Exhibit A section.  You may want to express wishes for memorial services or a letter sent to patients in the event of your death.  Or you may not want to add any instructions at all that we simply cannot anticipate. You can create and update your Exhibit A at any time, before or after creating your personalized Therapist Will.

By taking this approach, the TherapistWill gives you the option of maintaining your legal and ethical obligations while providing you with the opportunity to express your personal wishes, values and preferences.

Therapist Will is not a traditional will.

States have specific requirements for what can be admitted to court as a will.  Your Therapist Will is intentionally not that type of will.  A Therapist Will can be incorporated into a traditional will or living trust by a competent attorney.  But otherwise, the purpose of the Therapist Will is to provide comprehensive personalized instructions and to express your intent with regard to the continued care of your patient and the handling of your clinical files in case of death or incapacity.  While we support and encourage everyone to create an appropriate estate plan, we realize that many mental health professionals want to comply with the particular obligations we are addressing without having to spend time and money involved in creating a full estate plan with an attorney.

Our ultimate aim is to help you meet your obligation in a complete, efficient and cost-effective manner.

They require it.  We make it easy.