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Katz Baskies LLC – Change of Domicile Checklist:

January 2016

Change of domicile cases come in many shapes and sizes. 

For example, some clients sell their old homes, have no business or other ties to their former states, and move to Florida to live full-time. Those cases are easy, and those changes of domicile are typically obvious and manifest. 

On the other hand, some clients seek to be Florida residents, but they retain homes in their former states, they still work in the former states and/or they evidence stronger ties with their former states than with Florida. For these clients, claims they changed domicile have significant tax concerns. For them, even strict adherence to the steps described below may not change the domicile issues.

Naturally, many clients fall in the gray area in between. For these clients, strictly adhering to some or all of the steps described below is vital to ensure that a change of domicile to Florida is effective.

Here’s a client-oriented checklist of steps to change domicile to Florida:

  • · Purchase or rent a residence in Florida and move in.
  • · If you purchase a residence, file a homestead exemption from real property taxes assessed against your Florida residence, to evidence your change of domicile and to avail yourself of the tax exemptions.
  • · Record a “Declaration of Domicile”, as permitted by Florida law, with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the County of residence. The format is provided in Section 222.17, Florida Statues.
  • · Register to vote in Florida and have your name stricken from the voting rolls of your former state of domicile.
  • · In Florida, execute a new Will or Codicil in which you state that you are a resident of Florida.
  • · Declare Florida to be your place of domicile and residence in all forms or documents that require a recital of residence, such as Social Security Administration papers, passports, contracts, deeds, leases, credit cards, etc.
  • · Notify all non-Florida social and religious organizations of which you are a member of your change of domicile and, if possible, assume non‑resident membership status or resign. If possible, the address to be published in any directories for such organizations should be changed to show your Florida address. If it is practical, also join a Florida organization, temple or church and, if so inclined, become active in local Florida community affairs.
  • · To the extent that you engage in political activities, make an effort to see that these are centralized in Florida. As stated above, you should register to vote in Florida at a minimum.
  • · Obtain a Florida driver’s license and surrender the license issued by the state of your former domicile. You should also register your automobile at your Florida address.
  • · Remove the contents of any safe deposit boxes outside of Florida, surrender the boxes and move the contents to Florida boxes. 
  • · Set up Florida banking and investment arrangements.
  • · File Federal Income Tax Returns and Gift Tax Returns using your Florida address and file them appropriately (i.e. mail your Form 1040 to the Internal Revenue Service Center in Atlanta, Georgia).
  • · Stop filing state income tax and gift tax returns in your former domicile, except when required on particular income originating in such state, and then file as a non‑resident using your Florida address.
  • · If possible, limit business activities in your former domicile. 
  • · Consult with an accountant and a lawyer in Florida (at least as co-counsel).
  • · Consult a physician in Florida and have your medical records sent to the Florida doctor.
  • · Make your Florida home the base from which you leave on extended trips and to which you return after the completion of a trip. Do most of your entertaining at your Florida residence and try to arrange for the holding of family gatherings and reunions there. If the subject ever comes up in conversations with friends, adhere to the position that Florida is your home.
  • · After the change in domicile, it is especially important that you avoid spending significant amounts of time in your former domicile state, particularly without interruption by returns to Florida. Time spent in a permanent place of abode in your former domicile may subject you to taxation as a resident. You should discuss this with a knowledgeable attorney in your former domicile, and limit your visits there to the extent advised in order to avoid unnecessary problems.
  • · If possible spend at least 183 days per year in Florida. If not possible to spend at least 183 days per year in Florida, at least try to spend a preponderance of your time in Florida.
  • · If you do have a home or spend time in your former domicile state, it is vital to keep an accurate calendar so you can show when you were in Florida each year and when you were in the former domicile state. You may be asked one day to prove your time, and a calendar is helpful. Also, phone bills, utility bills and credit card bills all may be indicative of where you were living, so make sure your calendar is accurate. 
  • · If possible, dispose of your former principal residence in your former state (by sale, gift to children, Qualified Personal Residence Trust, etc.) unless you can clearly show that it is used only as a vacation home for less time than the residence in Florida is used. New York courts, we are advised, have held that if an individual has more than one home and other evidence of domicile is not conclusive, the home first acquired will be considered the domicile. Thus, disposition of your former residence may become particularly important, particularly if it was purchased first, and/or if it is significantly larger in size or more valuable than your Florida residence.
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