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Florida, A Place To Call Home

Florida, A Place To Call Home 1

By Shawn R. Loring, Esq #76442; CM #13

The real estate in this column is often dedicated to the exploration of the peculiarities of domicile, as domicile presents challenges for part- and full-time RVers. RVers, who may only domicile in one state, have the option to elect to be domiciled in any state, and they often choose, for good reason, to be domiciled in either Texas, Florida or South Dakota. Although this column has often highlighted the advantages of domiciling in Texas, and it will dedicate time in the future to the benefits of domiciling in South Dakota, Florida offers some exciting opportunities for RVers to successfully domicile in its state.

Florida as a state of domicile is appealing because it offers the advantages of no state income tax, a state-level sales tax of six percent and laws and processes that make vehicle and voter registration convenient. If Florida is calling you home, familiarize yourself with the following factors and the domicile law that makes establishing intent easy.

(A note of qualification: The following information is for educational purposes only. Your decision to elect one state of domicile over another requires an analysis of the following factors, along with additional considerations. I encourage you to seek the guidance of your attorney, financial planner and accountant before taking actions to change your domicile.)

The Attorney General of Florida’s List of Factors Commonly Considered When Establishing Domicile

The Attorney General of Florida, cited in the Biennial Report of the Attorney General, issued September 30, 1936, quoting the Restatement of Conflict of Laws of the American Law Institute, defined domicile in Florida as “the place with which a person has a settled connection for legal purposes, either because [his] home is there or because the place is assigned to [him] by the law
” The Attorney General states that among the various factors—which each carries different weights and none of which is entirely conclusive—“the courts have considered the following as bearing upon the question as to whether a new domicile has, in fact, been established:

a. Ownership or lease and occupancy of dwelling. [This factor is most significant to part-time RVers.]
b. Transaction of business at new residence. 

c. Registration as voter and voting. [This factor will be relevant even if you travel outside of Florida.]
d. Returning tangible property for taxation and payment of intangible property tax. [Returning tangible property for taxation may include paying the sales tax on a newly purchased RV.] 

e. Making income tax returns and payment of income tax in district claimed as domicile. [Consider developing relationships with businesses within your chosen state of domicile, which will strengthen your claim that you have a “settled connection” with that county.]
f. Declaration of residence in the will upon the direction of the testator. [Wills, trusts and powers of attorney should be drafted or updated in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida.]
g. Recitals of residence in deeds and other legal documents. 
[When you have chosen a domicile, for all official business, you should use your address of domicile. Note: This should not prevent you from using the Escapees mail service to receive regular correspondence.]
h. Registration of automobile and payment of automobile licenses. [My research revealed that Florida has a process to register your vehicles, even if you are out of state.]
i. Transfer of bank account and securities to new residence. [Bear in mind that this Attorney General’s opinion was written before the Internet made electronic commerce commonplace. However, establishing business relationships within your chosen county strengthens your claim that you have a “settled connection” with that county.]
j. Registering at a hotel as a resident of a certain place claimed as the domicile. [A Florida attorney indicated that it would not be a difficult leap for a Florida court to find that registering at a campground/RV park is the same as registering at a hotel.]
k. Transfer of church membership. 

l. Membership in local clubs, societies, lodges, etc. [Establishing a relationship with religious institutions, as well as local clubs, societies and lodges, strengthens your claim that you have a “settled connection” within that county.]
m. Declarations as to change of residence in both oral and written communications
 [Florida’s legislature has resolved this issue. By law, you can make a declaration of your intent and have it filed in your county. The details of this law are discussed below.]
n. Claim homestead exemption as provided by Constitution and statute. [At the time of the writing of this article, you cannot homestead an RV. However, if you decide to purchase real estate, then you should consider homesteading that property.]
The weight to be given to the various evidentiary factors listed above is not here considered. An attempt to set forth all of the possible facts and factors that might, in a given case, have bearing upon the question of domicile is an impossibility. An attempt has been made to set forth but few of the circumstances.”

Domicile “Intent” Made Easy

The aforementioned factors are important to address as courts can and will engage in an analysis of the factors listed above. However, 222.17 (2) of the Florida Statutes states additional considerations: 

Any person who shall have established a domicile in the State of Florida, but who shall maintain another place or places of abode in some other state or states, may manifest and evidence his or her domicile in this state by filing in the office of the clerk of the circuit court for the county in which he or she resides, a sworn statement that his or her place of abode in Florida constitutes his or her predominant and principal home, and that he or she intends to continue it permanently as such. 

In short, establishing your “intent” to domicile in Florida requires filling out a form called the Declaration of Domicile, which must be filed in your county of domicile. Unless you have extenuating circumstances, which should be discussed on a case-by-case basis, you should be able to continue RVing while maintaining an address of domicile in Florida.

Escapees: Home

Obtaining an address to connect you with Florida may be part of your process of establishing a domicile in Florida. In addition, you may need a service that will forward your mail to you, regardless of where you travel. The Escapees have the solution in Escapees: Home. Escapees has made it possible for you to use the Sumter Oaks RV Park as your address of domicile. The best part is that you can still use your Escapees Mail Service address as your mailing address! If you have questions about Escapees: Home, please contact the Escapees staff at 888-757-2582.

Generations Financial Services, LLC/SagePoint Financial, Inc. branch 14584: 111 Pearl Thomas Road, Livingston, TX 77351. Securities and investment advisory services offered through SagePoint Financial, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Tax and insurance services offered through Generations Financial Services, LLC, which is not affiliated with SagePoint Financial, Inc. Legal services offered through Loring & Associates, PLLC, which in not affiliated with SagePoint, Inc. Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice. Individual situations can vary; therefore, the information presented here should only be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

6 Responses

  1. We are already Florida residents but are wanting to be full time rvers and considering selling our home and keep Florida as our home base we are thinking about buying land to come back to every so many months and afew years from now build a home on it and we’re just wondering if this is allowed? Also we have a 10yr old we want to home school rather we are full or part time rvers is this allowed? We cant think of a better education then home school and traveling to see the places a child is reading/learning about ? Thank you

    1. Hi Susan!
      Many RVers have done just what you propose- purchase land in a place where they would want to settle long-term.
      Homeschooling also shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you are following the state guidelines.
      However, we aren’t qualified to offer case-by-case detailed advice on domicile and financial plans. We highly suggest you reach out to an attorney who specializes in domicile if you are seeking more personal guidance.

  2. We have recently retired and have a home in VA. At least for the immediate future we will be keeping our home, but may in the Spring sale it to downsize. However, because of family, we will always have a house of some sort in VA. We will be part-time rver’s, but would very much like to domicile in FL. We have already moved our life’s savings to a company in FL. We attend church there when we are in town, I have a drs appt there in Jan and we have many great friends there. We will be spending at least 4 months there at a time and with our occasional travel there, should have no problem reaching the 6 mos residency. I realize we will need to move our vehicle registration and insurance to FL and would like to do that before the end of the year. Our problem is, for this year, it won’t be possible for us to get to FL until roughly the 2nd week in Jan to change our driver’s license. For tax purposes, we would like to have our vehicles registered there before the end of the year but I’m concerned about insurance and our driver’s license. If we move our registration on our vehicle, we also have to purchase insurance in FL, right? I’m concerned that we can’t get FL insurance with VA driver’s license, if only for a few short weeks. What is your recommendation? Is there any way to make this happen before the end of 2018 and still have adequate insurance coverage. I realize its all a matter of timing and I just don’t know if this is possible or not at least until 2019

    1. These are all really important questions. I recommend you reach out to Loring and Associates for legal advice on these matters. You can give them a call at 800.260.1615

  3. Our situation:

    We are FL residents but don’t live there. We bought a motorhome and and tow car in Ormond Beach FL a year ago. Now we have a FL D/L and our vehicles are registered in FL. Our mail goes to a UPS box in Palm Coast FL. We have our minimal mail forwarded to us about every 3 months. We are mostly in S. California and AZ but do travel to other states periodically. We move about every 3 weeks.

    The big problem we have with the UPS location we chose is their address. Some financial institutions know this is a place of business and will not accept the address….especially “Unit 200 #320 “.  We cannot register to vote using that address either. How can we get around those things with you?


    1. Our Florida-based mail service addresses are actually tied to a place of residence (same with our SD and TX addresses). Many of our RV parks, including the one in Sumter County, offer long-term residential options in addition to short term stays. Because of this, even though the park is a place of business, there are legitimate residential addresses at the same location. When establishing domicile, even as a traveler, you are stating that you intend to return to the place in which you claim domicile. You can’t live at a UPS store, but you can live at one of our parks.

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