Who doesn’t want to be a Florida resident? The weather is warm year-round, and there are great golf courses, beautiful beaches and world-class cultural venues. While these are certainly worthwhile reasons to move to the Sunshine State, many people do so to take advantage of the lack of state income and state inheritance taxes. If you’re considering making the move, use this checklist of steps for establishing Florida residency:

    • If you own a home in Florida, you should apply for the Florida Homestead Exemption. Only individuals who are permanent and legal residents of Florida can qualify for the exemption. If possible, sell your home in another state.


    • If you maintain a second home in another state, keep a journal with detailed records as to the number of days spent in Florida, along with travel itineraries for out-of-state travel. You must spend the majority of your time in Florida (183 days) and be able to prove it, if challenged.


    • Update your legal address on all documents to reflect your Florida address (passports, insurance contracts, pension benefits, etc.).


    • Update your records to have all mail sent to your Florida address. Obtain a Florida driver’s license and return the license from your former state. Register, insure and obtain new plates for your vehicles.


    • Change your voter registration and vote in the next election. Have your name removed from the voter registration roll of your former state.


    • File a Declaration of Domicile with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and mail a copy to the tax authority in your former state.


    • Have an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Florida review, revise and update your estate planning documents to conform with state laws.


    • File a final tax return in the state from which you are moving and begin filing tax returns in Florida. If you derive income in another state and are required to file a return in that state, do so as a non-resident using your Florida address.


    • If you bank or invest with a national firm, begin using a local branch for your financial needs. If you have a safety deposit box out of state, stop using it and relocate the items to a bank in Florida. If not, establish a relationship with a local financial firm. Make sure to have income (Social Security, pensions, annuities, dividends, rent, royalties, etc.) deposited in the local branch.


    • Use local medical professionals and have your records forwarded to them.


    • Join and become active in local organizations (religious or social).


  • A couple changing domicile should try to do so at the same time.

While a change of domicile could always be challenged by the taxing authority of another state, careful attention to details, along with evidence that you have taken the necessary steps to declare your intention to make Florida your primary residence, should help satisfy the domicile requirements. If there is a good reason for not complying with one of the items above, document that reason. As with all your major financial decisions, consult a professional to assist you in your decision-making process.

An original article authored by the advisors of Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC
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