What to do when your doctor, lawyer, CPA, or other trusted professional retires

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A few months ago, I got the kind of jerk from my tax preparer that many of us will sooner or later get. He informed me that he had decided to retire in the coming years.

While I was happy for him, I immediately recognized the agonizing implications for me: that our 29-year association was coming to an end and that I needed to find someone to take his place. Someone I could trust, afford and enjoy doing business with. Oh yes, compatibility would be crucial as well.

His newsletter threatened to turn my life upside down, in the same way similar news from a longtime doctor, dentist, or lawyer might. Finding a new specialist can be a major challenge and a potential point of stress or anxiety.

How could I do the research ?, I asked myself.

Suddenly I had to start thinking about the expertise and background of a new tax preparer and had to worry about how much I might pay.

Also see: What can you do if you suddenly find yourself retired

Don’t we all settle into our little comfort zones, based on years if not decades of a professional relationship that – if you’re lucky – turns into friendship?

Strong links with our pros

As we get older, there is great comfort in knowing that these pros will be there for us. They got to know us, our stories and our idiosyncrasies (and we know theirs).

Based on the long association, we hope they will give us preferential treatment when necessary: ​​appointments anytime and prompt reminders to answer questions whether trivial or critical. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll even give us a friendly discount on their services based on our years together.

The guy who did my taxes every year and I go back a long way – until 1992. He had been working on my taxes since George HW Bush was president, Phil Simms was the quarterback to my beloved New York Giants and The great Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees was still a high school freak in Michigan.

And now I should find someone so trustworthy, wise, and knowledgeable about both the tax code and my unique financial life. Could I manage to find someone so reliable?

A heartbreaking decision

The truth is, there is no easy answer when you have to look someone in the eye and make an assessment that could affect you for years to come, maybe the rest of your life.

Even specialists like doctors, dentists, accountants and lawyers recognize that this can be a heartbreaking decision.

If you’re lucky, the retirement of one of these pros is a planned event, so you have time to choose a replacement.

Read: Essential tips for finding a good property planner

References and recommendations

Often times, doctors and dentists reassign their patients to the care of a partner or local person they know and respect.

“In my case, I discussed my departure with three other solo pulmonologists and asked them if they would be willing to accept my patients,” said Dr John Pellicone, a pulmonologist who started his practice in New York. York over three decades ago. and retired in 2015. “I then contacted each of my patients and asked them to indicate which doctor their file should be sent to.

Dr. Paul Bizzigotti, orthopedic surgeon in Cadillac, Michigan, said, “A personal recommendation carries the most weight, my patients know they can trust my reputation and have their best interests at heart.

This type of effort facilitates the transfer, but it does not take into account the correspondence of the patient’s personality with the new medical genius.

Following: How to find a good doctor

In addition, choosing a new doctor or dentist ensures that they are well networked for your insurance plan.

Questions to ask yourself

And there are other questions you need to ask yourself, as Pellicone pointed out: “Are the new supplier’s office hours convenient? Is the office well located? Who covers the new supplier when he is absent? If the patient is to be hospitalized, will the new provider come to the hospital for a bedside visit or is the practice only in the office? “

It helps to do your own research as your professional nears retirement. But a word of mouth referral from someone you trust can be key.

It might help you find out if their expert’s personality is right for you.

Read: 5 questions to ask yourself before choosing a financial advisor

I’m lucky. I have had the same general practitioner since the 20th century. When he looked me in the eye and said, “You have to lose weight,” I took it as a constructive criticism and not a personal rebuke, based on our long association. (Thanks, Doc: I lost 40 pounds two summers ago!)

But one day… well, I don’t want to think about it.

Let’s face it. We are bound to feel nervous the first time we walk into the office of a new specialist for us.

“You can be intimidated,” admitted Mark Diamond, a Brooklyn, NY lawyer who recently had to find a dental surgeon to replace the one he had been using for 30 years.

See: How to find a knowledgeable and ethical financial advisor

Luckily for Diamond, he has found a new dentist referred by his retiree and is thrilled – he trusts the man’s expertise and the office is a short drive away.

I’m happy for him. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to start finding a tax preparer nearby. April is fast approaching.

Jon Friedman, the author of “Forget today: Bob Dylan’s genius for (re) invention, avoiding opponents and creating a personal revolution ”(2012, Penguin’s Perigree Imprint) is a longtime journalist and dedicated educator.

This article is reproduced with permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2020 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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