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Maintaining Legal Domicile in Florida Even If You Head for Higher Ground During the Pandemic


Florida is a paradise for seniors, except when it isn’t.  There is a reason that so many retirees spend the winter in Florida and the summer in a more temperate area.  The summer heat, lightning storms, and hurricanes are enough to make anyone not want to spend the whole year in Florida.  The COVID-19 pandemic, which poses special health risks for people over 60, has hit Florida especially hard.  More than one out of every eight new COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks has been diagnosed in Florida.  If you own a house in another state, or if you have decided to ride out the pandemic by staying with relatives in Maryland, New Jersey, or some other state where the number of new cases has been low after the initial peak, then staying away from Florida until the number of new infections decreases is a wise move.  How will this affect you, financially, though?  Your decision to live out your golden years in Florida involved careful financial planning.  How will your temporary plans for spending time away from Florida affect your long-term estate plan?  You should contact a Florida estate planning lawyer to discuss the details.

Why Domicile Is Important

You are free to own property in more than one state and to divide your time among those residences as you choose.  From an estate planning perspective, it is important that only one state be your domicile (a legal term meaning “official residence”).  This is because only the courts in the state where you have domicile can conduct the probate of your estate.  Questions about legal domicile are one of the main reasons for probate disputes.  For example, Florida courts decided a dispute about the estate of a wealthy businessman from Maryland who moved to Florida shortly before his death, his daughter denied that he had legitimately established domicile in Florida.

Proving That Florida Is Your Legal Domicile

When you moved to Florida, you probably took steps to establish legal residence here.  Of course, now is not the time to stand in line at the DMV or go to any public place; you should stay home and stay safe.  Instead, when it comes time to pay taxes for 2020, you can provide any of the following pieces of evidence if there is a question over whether Florida is your legal domicile:

  • A declaration of domicile form, notarized and filed with the courts of your county
  • Your Florida driver’s license or non-driver ID card
  • A Florida vehicle registration
  • A Florida voter registration
  • Bank accounts opened in Florida
  • Final tax returns from your previous state of domicile, filed before you moved to Florida

The more documentation you have, the better.  Your estate planning lawyer can work with you remotely to help you document your established domicile in Florida.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

You need an estate planning lawyer who understands the complexities of a world where everything is mobile.  Contact Clearwater asset protection lawyer William Rambaum for help today.




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