To become domiciled in Florida, you must subjectively intend to become domiciled in Florida. Because it is impossible to conclusively determine a person’s subjective intent, courts that have been called upon to determine a person’s true intent have identified objective indicators of intent. While there is no “official” list of actions required to objectively indicate your subjective intent to become domiciled in Florida, the following actions have been identified in various court cases as being objective indicators of a person’s intent to become domiciled in Florida.
- File a declaration of domicile with the Clerk of Courts in the Florida county where you now reside. See sample form in Appendix B1. While a declaration of domicile is not required by Florida, it is a clear indicator of your intent to change your domicile as of the date of the declaration and provides documentary proof of your intent that can be given to others who request such proof. For example, we recommend that a copy of the declaration of domicile be attached to your final income tax return for your former state.
- Spend as much time in Florida as is practical (preferably more than 180 days per year) and own or lease and occupy a residence in Florida.
- Register and license your cars, boats and other vehicles in Florida. See Chapter 7.
- Register to vote in Florida and notify the voting registrar in your former state to remove your name from its voting records.
- File a final income tax return in the state where you were formerly domiciled, mark it as your “final return” and reference a copy of your declaration of domicile attached as an exhibit to the return, and notify the taxing authority of your change of domicile. If you continue to receive income from a source in your former state (e.g., rental income generated by real estate located in your former state), you may be required to file a “nonresident” income tax return.
- Establish relationships with Florida attorneys, doctors, accountants, financial planners, trust officers and insurance agents.
- Transfer financial assets (e.g., securities, bank accounts and brokerage accounts) to institutions in Florida or to financial institutions that maintain offices and do business in Florida.
- Maintain a safe deposit box in Florida rather than in your former state (based on at least one court case, this could be a small but crucial factor in determining your domicile).
- When completing registration cards at hotels, use your Florida address.
- If you return to your northern state to fish or hunt, purchase a non-resident fishing or hunting license for that purpose.
- Use your Florida address for all correspondence.
- If you end up in a nursing home in another state (i.e., after a lengthy illness), be sure to have your family list Florida as your home address.