The loss of a social worker or counselor can be very difficult for clients. Having a plan for what happens if you die suddenly or become incapacitated without warning, helps those whom you designate to respond promptly and effectively to your clients' needs and to the unfinished business of your practice.

In addition to an executor for your personal will, you should appoint two qualified persons to take charge of your professional will – one primary and one for back up. Once they have accepted, it can be immensely helpful to have a joint planning session to sketch out the content and determine the level of detail needed.

Build on the list of topics to design your professional will. Consider including:

-          professional calendar and schedule

-          informed consent for release of information

-          current clients, and their contact information

-          up-to-date list of professionals to be considered for referrals

-          message and level of detail to clients

-          closed clients, dates of closure and their records

-          method of notification to clients

-          employee Assistance Program (EAP) contact persons

-          access information for office, email, voice messages, computers, digital file storage

-          location of key/s and filing cabinet/s

-          insurance documents

-          information about landlord or office manager

-          person responsible for client file storage in the future

-          attorney, if applicable

-          instructions  to handle unpaid bills

-          how the executor will be compensated for services

In addition to preparing your professional will, you should cross-reference your private will or even make explicit reference to one another to avoid conflicting information. As with any legal document, we recommend you have an attorney do a final review.


Web Links


British Columbia

Preparing Our Professional Will, available in archives 2009


When a Clinical Social Worker in Solo or Group Practice dies 


Therapist’s Guide for Preparing a Professional will