Boca Raton Estate Planning FAQs

Domicile Considerations

The following is a suggested list of do’s (and don’ts) to help demonstrate you are no longer a resident of the former state:

  • File a declaration of non-domicile with the former state, if available.
  • Give up your driver’s license in the former state (once you have obtained your driver’s license in Florida).
  • Have your name removed from the voting rolls of your former state.
  • If the former state has an income tax, in the year you become a Florida resident begin filing as a “non-resident” of the former state. And, file a “Final Return” when you no longer have income in the former state
  • Stay out of the former state for at least six months each calendar year. Certain states (not Florida) presume that you are a resident of that state if you resided there for more than six months.
  • Consider selling your old home. Selling your former family home is both an emotional and financial issue. Thus, discuss this decision with your loved ones, as well as your estate planning, tax and financial advisors.
  • If you were involved in civic, religious or charitable organizations, consider reducing any leadership roles and keep a lower profile in those organizations.
  • Do not run for a politically elected position in the former state. Holding a political office typically requires that you are a resident of that state.
  • Do not avail yourself of certain “discounts” that are only available to residents of the former state. For instance, in many states, residents receive an exemption (or reduction of real property tax) on their homestead. If you leave the state, notify the state and give up any such resident benefit (such as the homestead real estate tax exemption). Generally, one’s homestead is the primary residence used by that person as their established place of living.

Given the subjective nature of a person’s decision to change residency to Florida, courts and taxing authorities generally look to objective criteria (i.e., steps one took) to illustrate one’s intent to become a Florida resident. Based on experience, here is a list of steps you should consider taking when considering making Florida your home:

  • File a “Declaration of Domicile” in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the county of your new residence. You should be able to get this form at the county’s website.
  • Obtain a Florida driver’s license, as soon a possible.
  • Register to vote in Florida and then vote, as soon as you are eligible.
  • Change the registration of your automobiles (i.e., obtain Florida license plates for your cars).
  • Notify the Internal Revenue Service that your new mailing address is in Florida. This can be accomplished by filing Form 8822 (“Change of Address”).
  • In the year you make Florida your domicile, begin filing your federal income tax returns with the IRS Center where Florida residents file.
  • Consider owning a home in Florida. If you own the home, then apply for the Homestead Exemption. You can apply for your Homestead Exemption at various locations in the county of your residence (e.g., the local real estate tax department, the clerk of the court, and/or local driver’s license bureau).
  • If you rent a home in Florida, consider a longer term lease (generally at least a 12-month duration).
  • Update your estate planning documents (e.g., your will, revocable trust, durable powers of attorney – for finances and health – and your living will), and establish in those documents that you are a “resident of Florida.” Generally, you are best advised to have a lawyer who is a member of the Florida Bar and experienced in estate planning (specifically for Florida residents) to advise and prepare the documents. The experienced Boca Raton estate and trust attorneys at the Walser Law Firm can help you with preparing these documents.
  • Consider transferring financial relationships to a Florida advisor.
  • Consider opening a safe deposit box at a Florida financial institution and storing valuables there.
  • Consider establishing relationships with Florida health providers (doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, etc.).
  • If you are involved in any business transactions, recite that you are a resident of Florida in any legal documents.
  • If you receive Social Security or any other federal benefits, notify those federal agencies of your move to Florida.
  • When possible, spend as much time in Florida. Generally when making significant trips, you should consider departing from Florida (versus departing from the former state).
  • When traveling out of Florida, when registering at hotels and other boarding establishments, use your Florida address as your “home” address.
  • When having casual conversation, get in the habit of calling Florida “home.”
  • If you are involved in civic, religious or charitable organizations, consider changing your affiliations to Florida organizations.

Generally, a state can only tax its non-residents on income from or assets in that state. When you are no longer a resident of a state, and if you will no longer have income from or assets in that former state, it loses its ability to tax you. Thus, to prevent the loss of revenue from your departure, the former state may attempt to treat you as a resident, unless you prove otherwise. Establishing that you are a Florida resident proves that you are not a resident of the former state!