Dentists risk losing it all
Dentists who work as sole practitioners and don’t make a Will risk losing their practices in the event of their death.
“It’s a risk many dentists don’t know they are running” confirms QualitySolicitors Wilson Browne Partner John Saynor, who leads the firm’s Dental Partnerships Team. “If a dentist working on their own has an NHS contract then the lack of a Will can mean that control of the practice is taken away – often destroying any value in the estate that would otherwise benefit the dentist’s family”.
General dental law provides that a sole practitioner’s estate has three years in which to find a buyer for a practice. If there is an NHS contract in place the rules are very different though, and the timescales unachievable without planning.
“The PCT has an obligation to ensure a continuing service for patients” explains John Saynor, “which means that they allow only 7 days in which for the Executors to give details of someone who can carry out the contract”.
The PCT can agree an extension of the 7 day period to three months but that is still likely to give Executors insufficient time to make alternative arrangements and preserve the value of the business.
If a sole practitioner dentist has a Will in place which specifically appoints another dentist to carry out the contract then Executors are likely to be able to obtain an extension of six months from the PCT – giving them a far better chance of dealing efficiently with the disposal of the business.
The BDA recommends dentists notify their Executors about the need to contact the PCT in writing within 7 days and provide information about how any NHS contract will be satisfied. A written agreement to extend the period has to be obtained from the PCT and that will only be granted if the PCT is satisfied that another contractor will wish to entering into an agreement to provide the services.
“Wills are often on people’s “to do” list” comments Partner Paula Dunkley, also a member of the Dental PartnershipsTeam at QualitySolicitors Wilson Browne “but if you don’t get round to making the Will the consequences can be quite devastating for your family in the event of your death – adding stress at what will already be a terrible time for them”.
For more information about making a Will to protect your Practice, contact a member of the QualitySolicitors Wilson Browne Dental Team or check out the advice sheet on our website at www.qswblaw.com.