Establishing & Maintaining Legal Domicile in Florida

We are often times asked how to become a Florida resident, or how to maintain that residency.  This decision can be an emotional decision, but it needs to be analyzed as completely as possible prior to making such an important decision.  Prior to making a decision of this import, we advise clients to seek professional guidance from their attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, and other trusted advisors.  Florida does not impose any individual income tax or estate tax, but there are a broad range of implications to consider.

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended as a starting point for discussion.  It does not create an attorney client relationship with this firm or its attorneys and is not intended as legal advice to a reader of this article.  No one should act or fail to in reliance on this article without seeking professional advice, and this article, without a signed written engagement letter with the author does not create such a relationship.

Following are some topics, arranged in no particular order, that one might consider in analyzing whether Florida residency is right for you.  There are additional issues, and the analysis for each client can be different.  However, these provide an good starting point for a discussion with your advisors.

  1. File a Declaration of Domicile.
  2. Register to vote and then vote in Florida.
  3. Obtain a Florida library card.
  4. Notify tax and voting officials of your previous residence that you have become a resident of Florida.
  5. Apply for Homestead Exemption. Implications? – 3% Cap, creditors, tax exemption.
  6. Titling Homestead property.
  7. Register your pets with a Florida veterinarian.
  8. Register your vehicle in Florida and obtain a Florida driver’s license.
  9. Obtain a Florida resident fishing license and terminate ones from other states.
  10. List Florida as residence in all deeds and other documents.
  11. Use your Florida address in filing your Federal income tax return with the IRS. If possible, file final tax returns for state of previous residence.
  12. Use Florida residence/address whenever possible, including hotel and airline reservations.
  13. The physical presence in Florida of securities is not essential nor is the Florida address for receipt of dividends where there is a valid reason for convenience to the contrary.
  14. Notify the Social Security Administration of your change of address.
  15. Establish and transfer financial accounts to Florida.
  16. Establish Florida health and wealth based professional relationships – doctors, attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors.
  17. Use Florida address for your passport.
  18. Use Florida address for your charge accounts.
  19. Notify social clubs of your Florida address for their membership rolls.
  20. Join Florida religious and social organizations.
  21. Obtain a safe deposit box in Florida (close others).
  22. Update your Will and/or Trust Agreement(s) to conform with Florida law and declare Florida as your residence.
  23. Execute a Florida health care surrogate, living will, declaration of preneed guardian, and durable power of attorney.
  24. Transfer your health insurance to Florida.
  25. Direct that all income checks, pension, dividends, interest, etc. should be sent to your Florida address or Florida account.
  26. Move your business to Florida.
  27. How much time to spend in Florida? How about in your prior state?
  28. Non-Florida “tax scouts.”
  29. Choice of fiduciaries.
  30. Other.

There are numerous issues to consider and fully analyze before changing residency from one state to another.  Readers of this article are advised to seek counsel prior to making such an important decision.

© David M. Silberstein, Esq., All Rights Reserved, 2015

David M. Silberstein, Esq., is the founder of the Silberstein Law Firm, PLLC, with offices in Sarasota, Florida, and Denver, Colorado.  David is a member of the Florida Bar, Colorado Bar, and New Mexico Bar.  He can be reached at 1515 Ringling Blvd., Suite 860, Sarasota, Florida 34236, 941-953-4400.  More information about the firm and David can be obtained from www.silbersteinlawfirm.com