Zero state income tax and no 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.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?