Have you ever heard of a “Declaration of Domicile?” A Declaration of Domicile is a legal document that helps establish Florida residency. Many people assume that buying a house or condominium in the state makes them a resident, but that is not necessarily the case. A legal resident must be domiciled. That means you live in Florida for the majority of the year, and you have no other permanent residences in other states.
Legal residency is important for estate planning, taxes, and other financial matters. It can also be used to enroll children or college students in school and to establish eligibility for Homestead Exemption. A Declaration of Domicile is not required when moving to Florida, nor is it the only means of establishing residency. It does show, however, an intent to make Florida your permanent home under penalty of perjury, and it can be useful when severing ties with a former state.
A sworn Declaration of Domicile must be filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the area of Florida where you reside. It must be signed and witnessed by a deputy clerk or notary public. Acceptable forms of identification include a state-issued ID card or a driver’s license from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Other forms of identification are described in Chapter 117.
A Declaration of Domicile also requires you to disclose whether you maintain a home in a different state. If so, you must confirm that Florida will be your principal residence. Once submitted, the document will be recorded in the public records of the county where you live.
No single act can prevent a former state from attempting to collect income or estate taxes, but a Declaration of Domicile and other supporting factors can strengthen your defense. Obtaining a Florida mailing address, driver’s license, and voter registration card are important. Purchasing real property, filing federal income taxes using your Florida address, and updating your estate planning documents will also help your determination of domicile. You will further need to take affirmative steps to terminate your residence status in your former state to confirm the address change.
Contact our office for help navigating a Declaration of Domicile and related issues.