People can generally have multiple residences. They usually only have one Florida domicile. In Florida, it is important to determine a person’s domicile.
Domicile determines which state can probate a will. It determines which state can tax estate assets. The decision determines who appoints a personal representative. It determines the rules for the administration of the estate.
Determining Florida domicile is a question that is often asked when a Florida resident dies. This is because many people who have homes in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, or other states also have a winter home in Florida. When a senior or someone dies, both states may claim that the decedent was domiciled in their state.
- Your domicile is the place you treat as your primary and permanent home
- Residency is a temporary condition. It is generally where you have a home. Homes include a family home, a vacation home, or an investment home.
Multiple domiciles can mean multiple taxations of assets. It can lead to a great deal of confusion about who can manage the estate. There will also be confusion about who has the authority to transfer homes, cars, bank accounts, and other assets.
Common factors which control the issue of domicile
Various factors determine the domicile versus residency difference. Stating that your domicile is Florida in a will is a factor but not a deciding factor.
The probate courts of Florida consider the following extra factors to determine a decedent’s Florida domicile and residency:
- Time in Florida. The number of days the decedent spent in Florida. A decedent who spent at least half his/her days is in Florida is strongly connected to Florida
- Children. Where the decedent’s spouse and children live. Often the spouse lives with the person who makes the will. Young children usually live with their parents. Adult children can live anywhere.
- Home. The decedent's home location. If a senior sells a home and moves to Florida, then the Florida residence should favor a Florida domicile. If a senior keeps an out-of-state home, then that state may claim it's the senior's domicile.
- Voter registration. Seniors should change their registration to Florida - to help create a Florida domicile.
- Job. The place where the decedent worked.
- Finances. Whether the decedent had bank accounts or a safe deposit box in Florida.
- Driver's license. Where the decedent had a driver’s license
- Place of worship Did the decedent go to church in Florida, belong to clubs, and engage in social activity
Physicians. Where the decedent’s doctors and other professionals worked
- Where the will, trust, and other legal documents are
- Travel. Where he/she returned from travels
- Taxes. The place for filing tax returns
- Mail. Where you get your mail
- Where the personal possessions are
- The locale for the homestead exemption
- Whether the decedent took steps to clearly cut ties with other states or countries
Many people relocate to Florida because the state does not have an income tax, an estate tax, or an inheritance tax. Florida has favorable asset provisions such as homestead property protection. Florida is also favorable for protecting retirement plans, wages, and other assets and benefits. The domicile versus residency question can thus save a lot of money and time.
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