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.