Tips For Soaking Up the Sunshine State As a Florida Resident?


Hello Valued Friends & Colleagues!

Many snowbirds are now returning to Southwest Florida, and someone in my “Circle of Trust” suggested that it would be a good idea to write about the advantages of Florida residency.

To establish Florida as your “primary residence” you need to reside in Florida for a minimum of 6 months and this isn’t necessarily contiguous time in the State. This 6 month rule simply means that you intend to live at least 6 months and 1 day total in the State of Florida in order to meet the residency requirement. That said, the practical truth is that you can travel is much as you want so this may be more of an intent question than anything else, particularly, if you own a residence in another state.

There are a few other steps that can be taken to solidify your Florida residency status which are:

• Obtain a Florida driver’s license
• Register to vote
• File a Declaration of Domicile with the county Clerk of Courts
• File for the Homestead Exemption
• Focus one’s major affairs and relationships in Florida

Some financial advantages that you can realize from making the switch to Florida residency are:

1. No state income tax
2. No state estate or death tax
3. 100% Homestead protection secured by the Florida Constitution
4. Florida Save Our Home Act which exempts a portion of the homestead from taxes and limits property tax increases to 3% per year
5. Broad asset protection laws such as Tenancies by the Entirety for married couples

There are also favorable asset protection laws in Florida concerning the protection of life insurance an annuities for Florida residents pursuant to Florida Statutes.

Another common question that arises concerning changes in residency is whether your estate planning documents should be updated? The short answer is they need to be reviewed as soon as possible following your residency change to determine whether they are enforceable under Florida law. Any review of your estate planning documents would include your revocable living trusts, powers of attorney, and medical advance directives and guardianship declarations.

Another common issue that arises is making sure that your real property in other states is held or “titled” in your Florida trust in order to avoid the possibility of multiple probates. Many who relocate to Florida often still own real property up north and upon death this can present substantial problems for families who are often forced to open a probate in that northern state while also managing a possible probate in Florida. In many cases, one probate can hold up the other and any probate can hold up the sale of real property or the distribution of other assets.

Finally, if you own a company and decide to make Florida your state of residency, there may be advantages in registering your LLC or Corporation in Florida due to the favorable state tax laws.

So this can be an interesting possibility offering many potential benefits and I hope this helps you by giving you a checklist of options and considerations.

Until next time friends…enjoy the Florida sunshine.



Steven J. Gibbs was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1999, the Florida Bar in 2007 and was recently admitted to the California bar. Keeping abreast of law changes in these three States, as well as the United States, assists him in all aspects of the types of law the firm practices.

Along his career path, he was an associate attorney for an insurance defense law firm; an in-house real estate negotiator for Target Corporation; and corporate counsel for Civix, LLC and Vice President for North American Properties where he was responsible for various real estate transactions, including legal issues and negotiating unresolved business issues.  Prior to opening Gibbs Law Office, PLLC, he was an associate with the firm of Roberts & Engvalson, P.A. where he gained his knowledge of trusts, estate planing and Wills.  He opened his own firm in 2008 and now focuses on laws that will enrich the needs of his clients throughout their lives and those of their children.  The firm has developed a practice dealing only with Trusts and Estate Planning, Wills, Medicaid Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Business Law and Probate.

Quoting from Steve “I decided to practice in areas that families will need as they progress down life’s path.  To help them with a solid foundation that will carry them throughout there lives is a rewarding experience for me and my staff.”

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