What Is a ‘Declaration of Domicile’ and How Does It Work?

A Florida declaration of domicile will enable you to qualify for important tax benefits.

Florida Declaration of Domicile – Opens the door to important benefits

As long-standing estate planning attorneys with offices in Palm City and Stuart, FL, we are often called upon to address declaration of domicile legal issues. Did you know that owning a home in Florida does not necessarily mean you are a resident of the state, at least not for tax and estate planning purposes? It is an important distinction for those wanting to benefit from Florida’s tax policies, and for those newly moving to the Sunshine State.

Unlike most states, Florida has no state income tax, estate tax or inheritance tax. Officials in other states, however, have grown more aggressive in recent years about going after people they consider their tax-paying residents. Filing a “Declaration of Domicile” can help.

A Declaration of Domicile is a legal document that shows an intention to make Florida your permanent and principal home. You can only have one domicile, and it is generally defined as the place where you live the majority of the year. According to Florida Statutes §222.17, the document must be filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the area where you intend to reside and signed under penalty of perjury in front of a deputy clerk or notary public.

You will also have to state whether you have other (former) residences in another state and claim that Florida will be your primary home. Once submitted, the document will be recorded in the public records of the county where you live. This does not terminate potential obligations with a former state, but it can be a strong first step toward severing ties.

A Declaration of Domicile is not required to move to Florida, nor is it the only factor in determining domicile. In fact, there are a number of affirmative steps you can take to strengthen your defense against tax officials or judgment creditors from a former state. Obtaining a Florida driver’s license and registering an automobile in Florida can be important, as is registering to vote, opening bank accounts, and securing a new mailing address in Florida.

There is no set waiting period to become a Florida domiciliary, but the longer you live in Florida the better. Buying real property, filing federal income tax returns using your Florida address, and updating your estate documents are also ways to solidify your status as a Florida domiciliary.

We know this is a complicated topic. We encourage you to contact our office for help navigating a Declaration of Domicile and related issues.