Did you know that Florida is the third most populous state, and that nearly 1,000 people move to Florida every day? People come for many reasons, such as retirement, weather, low taxes, and jobs. Moving to the Sunshine State, however, is different than becoming domiciled, which can be important for estate planning, taxes, and other financial matters. The clearest way to accomplish this is by filing a “Declaration of Domicile.”
The place where you live with the intent of making it your permanent residence is your domicile. You cannot have more than one, and you must spend a greater percentage of the year in your declared state than anywhere else. This also involves terminating your legal residence in a former state.
Florida Statute §222.17 provides that a person can show intent to maintain a Florida residence as a permanent home by filing a sworn Declaration of Domicile with the clerk of the circuit court. The document must be signed in front of a deputy clerk or notary public. Acceptable forms of identification include a state-issued ID card or a driver’s license from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Other forms of identification are described in Chapter 117.
Under penalty of perjury, you must declare whether you have another home in a different state, and if so, you must confirm that Florida will be your principal residence. Once submitted, the document will be recorded in the public records of the county where you live.
A Declaration of Domicile is not required to move to Florida, but it can be especially helpful when severing ties with states for income and estate tax purposes. That process is not automatic. Taking additional steps will strengthen your position should a former state attempt to collect. Purchasing real property, such as the house, condominium or other place you wish to establish your legal residence can provide homestead status. Using your new Florida residence to file federal income taxes and updating your estate planning documents can also be an effective means to cut ties with a former state and enjoy Florida’s low tax benefits.
There are a number of attorneys within our organization that can help with Declaration of Domicile related issues. Contact one of our members today for more information.