Action Items for the Estate When a Solo Physician or Dentist Dies

When a solo doctor or dental expert passes away, the doctor’s estate should figure out what to do with the practice. Due to the fact that the doctor practiced solo, there are no partners who will continue the practice. The estate can not run the practice because it’s not certified to practice medication or dentistry. Typically the estate has two choices, either offer the practice or wind it down.

Preliminary Steps. Before doing anything else, take these initial steps.
– Step # 1: Alert the CA Medical or Dental Board of the physician’s death.

– Action # 2: Inform the federal Drug Enforcement Administration of the doctor’s death. When you inform the DEA, you must get guidelines on how to dispose of the staying drugs and controlled substances.
– Action # 3: Talk with the workplace supervisor of the practice to identify the manager’s accessibility to assist unwind the practice, and to produce a plan of action.

– Step # 4: Find a company broker who focuses on the sale of medical or oral practices.
What to Do with the Practice Throughout the Interim Phase.

During the interim period while the estate is selling the practice or winding it down, you will require a doctor to operate the practice.
– For dentists, the law is clear. At the death of a dental expert, the executor of the estate might utilize licensed dental practitioners and oral assistants and charge for their services for approximately 12 months after death. Preferably, the short-lived dental practitioner keeps the practice running so that you can offer it as a going concern within the 12 months.

– For physicians, the law is not so clear. By the letter of the law, the estate may not itself operate, and might not work with a doctor to operate the practice during the interim duration when the estate is attempting to sell the practice or wind it down. Bear in mind that the estate is unlicensed. This implies that, according to the law as composed, the estate must either sell or close down the practice right away upon the death of the doctor. In the past, the CA Medical Board has permitted the estate to generate a doctor to cover the practice for the interim period while the practice is being sold. The CA Medical Board did so on a casual basis, however, and I can’t tell you that it has a policy of using this benefit. My advice is for the estate representative to call the CA Medical Board and describe the circumstance, and wish to get informal permission to bring in such a protection doctor on a short-lived basis. If approved authorization to do so, the estate needs to move fast in dealing with the medical practice. I have seen estates that ran a practice as much as one year after the physician’s death. This is certainly an abuse of the leeway given by the CA Medical Board, and likely makes up the unlicensed practice of medication by the estate, which is illegal.

If you offer the practice, the staff members hopefully can continue with the purchasing doctor. If you can’t offer the practice, then consider having the office supervisor handle the unwinding of the practice, including termination of employment, payment of amounts owed at termination, COBRA notifications, etc. The workplace manager can supervise most other actions required for the winding down as well, for instance, the giving of patient notifications, payment of practice obligations, and the collection of accounts receivable. You might have to pay the workplace manager a little additional to stay around for this work.
Patient Records.

Patient records resemble nuclear waste: no one desires them and nobody knows for how long to store them. Your best option is to discover a medical professional to take the patients and the patient records. If a patient demands his or her client records, thank the client, and deliver the records to the patient instantly.
If you can’t discover a doctor to take the patient records, then the length of time should the estate shop the records? I have no simple answer. There is no general law requiring a physician to keep medical records for a particular time period. Different laws have different requirements, for instance, 3 or 5 or 7 years. Many litigators advise that you hold patient records for 10 years, on the theory that the majority of claims have gone away after 10 years.

If absolutely nothing else, the estate should get in touch with the doctor’s insurance coverage provider to identify its requirements for record retention. You do not want to break the agreement for malpractice insurance coverage. Lots of carriers supply a reduced duration for maintaining records after a medical professional’s death. The estate needs to hold the records for at least the time period required by the insurance provider.
Malpractice Insurance coverage.

Keep the doctor’s malpractice policy in place until it ends. For high-risk practices, think about buying a tail policy. Keep copies of the physician’s prior policies until you feel safe from malpractice claims against the departed doctor.
One Year Statute of Limitations.

Lastly, talk with the estate’s attorney about the statute of constraints for estate and probate matters. There is an one-year statute of limitations for bringing a claim versus an estate which starts to range from the date of the death of the medical professional, despite whether the claimant learns about it. The one-year statute of limitations may cut off a lot of possible claims versus the estate.
Depending on the nature of the physician’s practice, you might feel comfy depending on this brief one-year duration for security from client, financial institution and other third-party claims versus the departed doctor. This is a challenging choice, but it’s a vital choice, so make sure to talk about it with your attorney.