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Dentists – Top Tips

Planning for the Future – key issues for Sole Practitioners

All dentists should make a Will but sole practitioners are particularly at risk if they don’t plan ahead.

Dentists who are sole practitioners should take steps to ensure that they have made plans for continuity of service where they hold NHS contracts or risk seeing the goodwill in their practices disappear after their death.

NHS contract requirements mean that a dentist’s personal representatives have to contact NHS England within 7 days of a dentist’s death and confirm that another contractor is capable of taking over the contract. If NHS England is not satisfied the contract will cease – and goodwill is lost. If arrangements are in place, however, NHS England can extend the period in which the personal representatives have to deal with the business sale to six months.

Our top tips will help avoid the problems:

  • Make a Will and make it now – it’s easy to put off making a Will but only your family will be sorry if you don’t
  • Ensure you talk to a specialist lawyer – dealing with business assets in a Will is not the sort of thing you should do without advice from an experienced lawyer
  • Consider setting up a mutual agreement with another NHS practitioner locally – this can either be a temporary agreement to cover the short-term, or a binding agreement to purchase the practice
  • Take legal advice on whether or not to form a limited company to hold the NHS contract during your lifetime. This is not straightforward and NHS England may set conditions in relation to the shareholding arrangements but it can protect the contract and the resultant goodwill in the business
  • Ensure that your next of kin, your Executors and your business advisers – lawyers, accountants etc – know about the need to contact NHS England within 7 days of your death. The last thing people may be thinking about if you die is telling NHS England but in fact notifying them and confirming the arrangements that are in place for continuity is vital
  • Make a Will – we’ve said it before but without a Will no-one has the legal authority to made decision about your practice and by the time the paperwork is sorted out it may be too late to preserve the value in a business you have sweated blood and tears to build up

Contact any member of our Dental Team for further information and to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced Private Client lawyers so that the right Will can be drafted to protect you, your family and their future.