Everyone has a “domicile”. A “domicile” is your expression of intent that this is going to be your permanent residence. Your “domicile” determines where you pay your state income taxes and controls other incidents of residence. You can have only one “domicile”
If you spend more than six months a year in the State of Florida, you can make Florida your domicile. In order to make Florida your domicile you should take the following steps:
Step 1: File a Florida “Declaration of Domicile.” This document allows you to declare that you are a bona fide resident of Florida because you reside in and maintain a place of residence there.
The Florida Declaration of Domicile is signed by you in front of a notary public or the deputy clerk of a Florida court. It must then be recorded in the public records of the Florida county where you reside. There’s a minimal fee for recording.
Note that within the Declaration of Domicile you must declare in the document whether you maintain another place or places of residence in some other state or states. If so, you must confirm that your residence in the State of Florida will be your permanent residence.
Note also that signing and recording a Florida Declaration of Domicile is not required to establish your Florida residency, but it is recommended.
Step 2: You should have a valid Florida driver’s license if you drive. If you don’t have a Florida driver’s license it is evidence that you haven’t officially moved.
After you file your Declaration of Domicile you have 30 days to get one.
Note that you cannot maintain your driver’s license from your former state of residence You cannot have a driver’s license from two different states. See generally: Florida Department of Motor Vehicles.
To get a Florida license, you will need proof of your Social Security number and two documents that show your Florida address.
Step 3: Don’t forget to register your automobiles, boats, and other vehicles that are located in Florida with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Florida requires that you take your vehicle to the DMV office for verification of the vehicle identification number.
You will have to insure your vehicles in Florida as well. Depending where you lived before, you may find your auto insurance rates to be less than your original home state. You will need proof of insurance from the DMV in order to register your vehicles in Florida.
Step 4: Don’t forget register to vote in Florida. This is an important step. You have to register 90 days before the next election.
You can accomplish this when you get your driver’s license or non-driver ID card. The DMV should provide you with a voter registration form at the same time. If not, ask for one.
Step 5: Transfer at least one out-of-state account to a Florida banking institution. If you bank with a national bank such as Bank of America, or JP Morgan Chase, or Wells Fargo, don’t forget to change your address on at least one of your bank accounts.
Step 6: Change your address on your Federal Tax Return to show your new Florida address. When you file your state income tax return, notify the state that you are now a Florida resident.
You should also notify the Social Security Administration of your new Florida address. You could also direct Social Security to direct deposit your Social Security check into your Florida bank account.
Step 7: Apply for the Florida homestead exemption if you purchase a home rather than rent one. This will help to establish your domicile in Florida and it will also provide for a property tax cut benefit and asset protection for your home in case you ever file for bankruptcy.
The Florida Save Our Home Act provides that if you qualify for a homestead exemption, $50,000 of your assessed property value is exempt from taxation. In addition, your property’s assessed value is limited to 3 percent increases per year.
Step 8: When you become a Florida resident, Florida law will govern your estate planning documents such as your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney, your Last Will, and your Power of Attorney.