Florida Domicile Planning
Moving to Florida has a lot of advantages, especially for those who are in the advanced stages of life. With no state income tax and many options for Medicaid planning, it is an attractive place for retirees. You do not need a lawyer to change your state residence, but it is such a crucial step in determining how end-of-life planning is done that we want to make sure you have all the tools you need.
Two Tests to Pass
We generally believe that there are two tests that determine whether you are a Florida resident and can avoid certain state taxes from your prior state. The first of these is the bright line test. This test requires that you physically stay in Florida for at least 183 days of the year, or at minimum do not spend 183 days of the year in your prior state. This test can be tricky to prove, however, because there are no borders that log when you enter and leave the state of Florida. There are also people who never spend a full six months in any one state because of work, vacation, and other travel needs. If you can prove you were in Florida for the majority of the year, then you move on to “Phase 2”, the subjective test.
What do I Need to Do?
Here’s a list of all the steps you can take to pass the subjective test for Florida residency. Feel free to use this as a checklist as you make plans to move. You do not need to do every single item on the list, and no item is weighted more heavily than the other. The goal is to do as many of these as possible when moving your domicile.
Steps You Can Take:
- Submit a Declaration of Domicile for your county. You can find these forms online.
- Change your driver’s license to Florida.
- Register any vehicles, including cars and boats, to Florida.
- Register to vote in Florida. Actually voting in Florida also helps. You can also notify voting officials of your previous residence.
- Change any estate planning documents to Florida and name Florida as your residence in those documents (we suggest getting a lawyer’s help with this to make sure you do not miss anything).
- Transfer your financial accounts to Florida
- Change your mailing address for everything to your Florida address. This can be things like bank accounts, credit cards, bills, subscriptions, and any other mail you usually receive.
- Notify tax officials, especially the IRS, of your move, and use your Florida address on your federal tax return.
- Update your passport to include your Florida address.
- Update any deeds you have to list Florida as your residence.
- Apply for Florida Homestead Exemption
- Notify the Social Security Administration of your move.
- Open a safe deposit box in Florida and move valuables there.
- Update any insurance policies you have to use your Florida address. This includes all life, home, auto, medical, and dental policies as well as Medicare.
- Change all payments such as income, pension, dividend and interest checks to your Florida home.
- Use Florida service providers and professionals whenever possible. This includes professionals such as doctors, lawyers, CPAs and dentists.
- Change your address on any social or professional clubs to Florida.
- Make your Florida address your default address whenever you need to submit an address such as hotel registrations and signing up for new services.
- Research what your current state uses to decide residency and double check that you have changed those things. Certain states, such as California, go to great lengths to try and prevent residency from changing.
If you are able to change every item that applies to you on this list to your Florida residency, you will likely pass the subjective test. It is still important to make sure you are also spending the majority of your time in Florida.
Need Help Transitioning?
Contact us today with any questions you may have about moving your domicile to Florida. We can also answer questions about whether a Florida move would be right for you in our free consultations.