Florida Domicile & Residency 101
Florida’s population is growing over time, expected to hit 23 million residents by 2025. While this means that there will be more Florida residents, this also means that many more people will choose to make Florida their domicile – essentially their legal residency. While all it takes to be a resident in the colloquial sense is a Florida address, the legal process of claiming Florida as your domicile is much more laborious. Some choose to engage a Florida attorney to help them through the system.
Good Reasons To Declare Domicile
It is fairly common for people to simply move to Florida while maintaining legal residency elsewhere, and there is no prohibition against this. However, there are several good reasons for establishing domicile in the state, especially if you have assets you would like to protect. For example, Florida has a provision in its state Constitution that allows you to designate your primary residence as a homestead, which in turn protects it from judgment creditors. The exemption has no dollar limit – if you specify your Florida residence as a homestead, it cannot be taken from you.
While many people have more than one residence, one can only have one legal domicile. Unlike many other states, Florida does not have a residency requirement before seeking to make the state your domicile; there are only a few actual requirements that it is a good idea to meet. One is physical presence, which you can establish with a lease or deed to a new home. The other is less definable; a declaration of domicile needs to come with a showing that you have effectively severed your ties to your former home. Trying to claim a Florida domicile while maintaining things like vehicle registration in the state where you used to live will generally not fly with the appropriate authorities.
What To Do?
If you intend to establish a Florida domicile, there are several actions you can take to help underline your intent to do that. Filing a Declaration of Domicile is the first step, which is a simple statement made at the Clerk of the Court in the county where you reside. In addition, transferring your vehicle and voter registration is critical – anything that reinforces a commitment to civic engagement. Other recommendations include moving bank accounts to Florida, contents of safety deposit boxes, finding Florida doctors and other professionals, and filing federal taxes listing your Florida address.
It may seem as though you have all the time in the world to complete this process, but more than anything, Florida domicile can be helpful if you are of advanced age. Given Florida’s homestead exemption, exemption for the value of life insurance policies, and lack of state income tax, probate can be much more streamlined than it might be in other states. It is generally recommended to begin the domicile process as quickly as possible, just so that you can benefit from it more quickly.
A Florida Domicile Attorney Can Help You With The Process
Making certain that you are domiciled in Florida as soon as possible means that you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the benefits of the state and its people. Our Florida domicile lawyers at the Nici Law Firm are ready and willing to try and assist you with your transition. Call our offices today at 239-449-6150 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.