RETAINING DOMICILE IN FLORIDA WHILE LIVING TEMPORARILY IN ANOTHER STATE
ZERO STATE INCOME TAX AND NO STATE ESTATE TAX MAKES FLORIDA THE IDEAL STATE TO LIVE IN. NO WONDER THE SNOWBIRDS FLOCK TO OUR SUNSHINE STATE- JUST LOOK AT FLORIDA’S HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION!
There is a difference between “residence” and “domicile.” A person can only have one domicile, but more than one residence in different states. So what is domicile? It is defined as actual residence within a particular state with the intention of making that state one’s permanent home. Its really comes down to a factual finding of the intent of a person to make a particular state his or her domicile.
Pursuant to Florida Statute §222.17, a person can show intent to maintain a Florida residence as a permanent home by filing a sworn Declaration of Domicile with the clerk of the circuit court. Florida Statutes also provide some factors that manifest intent to retain Florida as a primary residence.
Ways to retain or establish domicile in Florida and take advantage of all its benefits is to purchase real estate in the Sunshine State. One should register to vote in Florida and vote at the next possible election. One should keep his or her Florida driver’s license and plates. Having your will/trust drafted to comply with Florida law stating your domicile in Florida also evinces intent. It’s important to spend a significantly greater portion of each year in Florida by being physically present in the state.
Finally, one should also consider establishing certain relationships with the state of Florida. Banking, religious, social, professional and medical relationships are more than a few examples. Also, keep your personal mailing address as a Florida address.
Calling Florida your “home sweet home” allows you to take advantage of the state’s asset protection laws.
MAXIMIZE FINANCIAL AID THROUGH THE USE OF AN IRREVOCABLE TRUST
A strategic estate planning tool that you may want to consider is creating an irrevocable trust for child’s college fund. Funds transferred to an irrevocable trust remain subject to trust terms and conditions until the established time for distribution. A trust can protect your child’s college fund from creditor’s demands. Also, an irrevocable trust has its own tax ID number and is not considered an asset when calculating your taxes thus providing certain tax benefits. Trust property is excluded from the trustor’s gross estate for federal tax purposes.
Additionally, a trust does not go through probate. Therefore, if a child needs money for school, she can access the funds immediately in the event of your death without being subjected to a lengthy and costly court process. Furthermore, a trust can be set up with restrictions regarding how and when your money will be distributed to your child.
How your trust is drafted and reported on FAFSA dictates the eligibility of your child for need-based financial aid. A common error is reporting the full value of the trust fund when there are proportional shares of ownership in the trust. Also, a typical mistake families make is reporting trust fund amounts incorrectly when ownership of the income and principal from the trust fund are split.
You should consult with your qualified and experienced South Florida estate planning attorney to review the terms of your existing trust to advise you as to what your options are under your trust or draft one for you to meet your objectives concerning your child’s educational needs and goals.
COLLEGE BOUND KIDS- EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!
So your child has officially become an adult and ready to embark on a new journey- college! Congratulations! This is a huge milestone in your teenager’s life as well as a time of pride and concern for you as a loving parent. Your child is about to spread his or her wings leaving the family nest of security and safety.
What you need are eyes of a hawk in establishing a solid plan that will safeguard your teenager against any unexpected event that could place them in medical or financial peril. There are legal documents that should be prepared by a professional South Florida estate planning attorney who is familiar with the goals you wish to accomplish for your family. Your legal eagle understands the importance of a healthcare surrogate, durable power of attorney, and a living will.
The designation of a health care surrogate authorizes you to get information from a hospital or a doctor about your child. You will not be able to obtain this information once your child is 18 years old unless you have a document permitting you to do so. In addition, your child may be unconscious and unable to give permission. Florida’s HIPPA laws prevent the dissemination of medical information to others unless there are written directives authorizing the permission.
A durable power of attorney is an agreement that allows you to control your child’s financial needs. It can be drafted to allow you to access your child’s bank account in case you need to pay his or her bills, restrict spending, or replenish the account.
A living will is a document that a person uses to make known her desires regarding life-sustaining treatments. Although not the most palatable of topics, it will give you peace of mind with medical decisions you may have to make for your child in the event of an untimely illness or accident.