Florida is a great State to call your home. The weather is beautiful and the cultural and social events are as diverse and interesting as the people who have come here from all areas of the United States and abroad.

So why is the “residency” formality so important? For starters, Florida has no estate tax and no inheritance tax; many other states have inheritance or estate taxes (or both) which are in addition to the Federal Government’s estate tax. Also, Florida has no personal income tax and no intangible personal property tax; while most other states have at least an income tax. Like other states, Florida has real estate taxes, but Florida limits the tax on the primary home of Florida residents. Non-residents pay higher real estate taxes on that neighboring “waterfront home.”

The State of Florida rarely challenges a person’s residence, but the state of prior residence might challenge a Florida declaration of residency particularly if the individual retains possession of real estate in the prior State. All states consider the loss of tax revenues very important and when possible, something to prevent. Further, a successful challenge to your Florida residency could result in loss of the Florida homestead creditor protection.
So what can you do to clearly establish Florida as your state of residence? The most important factor in establishing residency is “intent”. States typically consider an individual’s actions as indicative of their “intent”. Among other factors, you can show your intent by. . .

Changing voting registration to Florida
Obtaining a Florida driver’s license and registering your vehicle in Florida
Properly applying for the Florida Homestead property tax exemption
Opening your primary bank and brokerage accounts in Florida
Properly filing your U.S. income tax returns in the Atlanta Office as a Florida resident
Consulting with a Florida attorney to conform your Will or Trust with Florida law.

The above list is not exhaustive, nor is it absolutely determinative. It’s just that the more steps an individual takes to show an intention to be a Florida resident, the less likely another state’s challenge to Florida residency will be successful.
The factors involved in proving Florida residency can be complex. If you have any questions concerning this subject, please don’t hesitate to call our office.

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