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How to Become a Florida Resident

Mar 4, 2008
In Florida, the courts have ruled that your legal residence is determined by your intention. Therefore, if you come to Florida with the intention of making this state your primary residence then you are a Florida resident and are entitled to the advantages and privileges that go along with it. Sounds easy doesn't it?

However, in many cases it is difficult to determine exactly what a person's intentions are. That's why it's important to provide clear evidence of your intention to become a Florida resident. In this chapter you will learn the procedure necessary to prove your intention to establish residency and the small details that will be helpful to convince your former state of residence that you no longer reside there.

Once you make the decision to become a Florida resident, you should make sure that everything about you shows that you are a Floridian. For example: a Florida resident is not registered to vote in Massachusetts; a Florida resident does not carry a Michigan drivers license; a Florida resident does not own or drive around in a car registered in Ohio; and a Florida resident does not root for the Yankees. O.K., maybe you can get by with that last one. Adherence to the following procedures will provide solid evidence of your intent to be a resident of Florida.

Declaration of Domicile. Upon making Florida your permanent residence, you should execute and file with the clerk of circuit court in the county where you reside, a Declaration of Domicile. This document is a sworn statement stating that you reside in and maintain a place of abode in the Florida county of your residence and that you intend to maintain such residence as your permanent home. If you also have a residence or residences in other states, you may disclose them and declare that the Florida residence constitutes your predominant and principal home.

Obtain a Florida Driver's License. Florida law requires that you obtain a Florida driver's license within 30 days after becoming a resident of Florida if you operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this state. To obtain a Florida driver's license, you must present evidence of your identification, proof of your date of birth and your social security number.

Depending on which state you are from, you may be able to use your former state's driver's license as a primary identification document. If you have an out-of-state license and it has not expired beyond 30 days, you may be able to convert it to a Florida license without taking a written or road test.

Vehicle Title and Registration. You must apply for a Florida certificate of title for any vehicle you own and operate in the state of Florida. Your vehicle must be registered within ten days of establishing residency. To register your vehicle you must submit the original title and proof of Florida insurance to the county tax collector. If you are registering the vehicle in Florida for the first time, Florida law requires payment of a $100 initial registration fee in addition to the basic registration fees. You are required to register your car every year. The registration period begins the first day of the owner's birth month and ends on the owner's birthday.

Voter Registration. One of the best ways to evidence your intention to reside in Florida is to register to vote in the Florida county where you reside and to participate in local, state and federal elections as a Florida voter. You may register with the county Supervisor of Elections when the voter registration books are open. The books close 30 days before an election and reopen following the election. Also, in most counties, selection for jury duty is taken from the roll of registered voters.

Wills and Estate Planning. You should have a will prepared by a Florida attorney which complies with Florida law and represents that you are a resident of Florida. This will revoke your prior will and make sure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes with the least amount of complications and delay. If you have a revocable trust, it should be reviewed by a Florida attorney to determine whether its terms comply with the laws of this state and whether it will be interpreted under Florida law in such a manner as to carry out your wishes.

Tax Filings. Federal income tax returns should be filed in Atlanta, Georgia. As a Florida resident, you must also file Florida tangible and intangible tax returns, if applicable.

Memberships and Affiliations. You should cancel your memberships in and affiliations with Churches, organizations and clubs in your previous state of residence or transfer them to Florida, if applicable.

Other items which can be used to evidence your intent to make Florida your primary place of residence are:

Location of your bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and securities.

Children's school attendance

Business interests and activities

Percentage of time spent in each state
About the Author
Dean Hanewinckel is an estate planning attorney practicing in Englewood, Florida. For further information you may contact him at dean@dean-law.com. Visit his website at http://dean-law.com to receive a free report - "7 Costly Estate Planning Mistakes - And How to Avoid Them."
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