Whether you’re moving to Florida for the winter, or for the rest of your life, you’ll need to answer one big question: whether to call the state your “home.” Learn about the advantages of making Florida your official “domicile,” and the process for making it happen once you arrive.
Tens of thousands of people throughout the country move to Florida every year. Some come to avoid a snowy winter. Others come for a new job or a new lifestyle. Whatever the reason, once they arrive, they all need to answer one big question: whether they plan to call Florida their official “home.”
While it seems like a simple question, it’s an important one to consider, as the laws that govern one’s home state will also govern his or her tax liabilities, estate planning and other financial concerns. The question is especially important for retirees and others who are planning to live in Florida part time while maintaining a residence in another state or country the rest of the year.
This article discusses the advantages of establishing Florida domicile (i.e. permanent residency), and how to go about doing it once you arrive.
To Be, or Not to Be (a Resident): That is the Question
Choosing to own a residence in Florida is much different than choosing to be a resident of the state. The latter requires that one declare “domicile” in Florida. When declaring domicile, you’re stating officially that you wish to make Florida your permanent home.
Why does it matter? More and more, people are discovering that declaring domicile in Florida has many different benefits. For instance, Florida is an extremely tax-friendly state. It’s one of just a few states in the country with no state income tax, which could save the average tax payer some 10 percent of his or her annual salary each year.
Additionally, Florida has no estate or gift taxes, meaning that you’re better able to protect the assets you’ve worked so hard for. And once you pass away, your surviving family members will be better protected, too.
How To Declare Florida Domicile
So: declaring domicile in Florida sounds like a pretty good idea. But how do you do it?
The first step you’ll need to make is to file a Declaration of Domicile with your local county clerk.
A Declaration of Domicile is a sworn statement that you intend to make Florida your permanent home. You can file a Declaration of Domicile at any point in time, and there is no minimum period you need to live in Florida before doing so. If you’re married, both you and your spouse may need to complete the form in order to enjoy all said benefits of being an official Florida resident. (Contact your financial or legal adviser to determine how that could impact you.)
In addition to the above, there may be a minimal fee associated with filing your declaration of domicile, including a recording fee and/or a notary fee. Fees will vary by county, so check with your local authorities to find out how much it costs in your area.
Sounds easy, right? It is – but there are still a few other things to keep in mind. Because your former state will likely experience a loss of tax revenue once you establish Florida domicile, it’s possible that it could challenge your domicile declaration. For that reason, it’s especially important to take further steps to ensure that Florida is recognized as your domicile – not just within Florida, but outside Florida, as well.