Florida has many advantages over other states: warm winter weather, beautiful beaches, and favorable tax policies, to name a few. In fact, did you know that Florida is one of only eight states with no state income tax or estate tax? This makes the Sunshine State ideal for older adults and estate planning. Winter snowbirds and out-of-state investors, however, are not likely to recoup the benefits unless they establish “domicile.”
Simply owning a home in Florida does not necessarily mean you are a legal resident of the state. Being domiciled involves making Florida your state of permanent residency. You can only have one permanent residence, and it is generally defined as the place where you spend the majority of the year. Filing a “Declaration of Domicile” is the clearest way to show this.
A Declaration of Domicile document establishes an intent to maintain a permanent home in Florida. It must be signed in front of a notary public and filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the area where you reside. It does not preclude owning homes in other states as long as they are not also claimed as a primary residence. Under penalty of perjury, the document will be recorded in the public records of the county where you live.
There is no set waiting period to become domiciled, though the longer you live in Florida the stronger your position should a former state attempt to collect income or estate taxes. Taking additional steps also helps, such as obtaining a Florida driver’s license, mailing address and voter registration card. Purchasing real property can further serve as a strong indication that you are a permanent resident, especially if it is your home.
Florida has strong asset protection laws, and the state’s generous Homestead laws could protect your home from judgement creditors while strengthening your domicile claim (only permanent
residents can receive homestead status). Using a state address to file federal income taxes and updating your estate planning documents are also effective means to cut ties with a former state
and enjoy Florida’s favorable tax advantages.
For help navigating domicile issues, reach out to our office to schedule a meeting time.