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Domicile Declaration - What You Need to Know

Are you aware that you may own a residence in most states, but that doesn't mean you're a resident of that state, at least not in terms of estate planning and taxes? It's a key distinction for individuals looking to take advantage of jurisdictions with advantageous income and estate tax policies.

You can own as many homes as you like. Still, your domicile is the one you acquire intending to relocate and live there permanently after abandoning your former residence.

Domicile declaration impacts where you pay taxes, vote, claim benefits, file lawsuits, and comply with government regulations. Read on to learn more.

What You Need to Know About Domicile Declaration

The home where one lives with their parents is their domicile of origin. This is your permanent address until you mature and move to your preferred location. This new location becomes your permanent address and domicile until you ditch it for a new one intending to make the new location your permanent address and therefore domicile.

In a Domicile Declaration, one formally states that they intend to make a specific state their permanent address and place of residence. As a general rule, a domicile is where you spend most of the year, usually more than half.

Domicile certificates can influence various legal matters, including taxation. Additionally, some states consider the document when a person enrolls a child in school, requests benefits, or applies for a job.

Importance of Domicile Declaration

Here are the most common legal issues where the status of your domicile matters:

  • When being assessed for state income tax: If you live and work in some states, you may have to pay tax on all your income, unlike non-permanent residents who only pay tax on income earned within the state.

  • Some states have an estate tax; others are non-taxing. Where you declare your domicile will impact how much estate tax your survivors will be charged.

  • Probate court proceedings following your death must always begin in the state in which you resided permanently at the time of your death.

Senior couples walking on the beach at sunny day

Is Domicile Important When It Comes to Divorce?

Yes, domicile does matter when it comes to divorce. While it’s possible to file for divorce in a state you aren’t domiciled as long as you meet its residency requirements, after a divorce, your capacity to claim child support and your legal domicile may impact alimony payments.

How do I fill out a Declaration of domicile?

You can obtain a Declaration of Domicile form at the County Records, Taxes, and Treasury Division offices. You can also get them online. Signed and notarized forms must be sent in the mail or hand-delivered in person to the local county clerk's office.

Everyone who signs the paper must present themselves to the notary. Each individual must produce photo identification, such as their passport, state driver's license, or ID. Cohabiting couples, domestic partners, and others can sign one form. All others must sign separate forms. Permanent green cards are required for resident aliens. A fee may be charged.

What should be included in the domicile declaration?

State rules and regulations may require an applicant to provide several documents, including:

  • Identification or green card number
  • Certificate number (for naturalized citizens)
  • An envelope with a self-addressed stamp must be sent by mail or in-person
  • List of your other or former residences in other states

Special Considerations

Some people split their essential activities equally into two states. For example, you live, file your taxes and make a will in Vermont but spend the holidays, register your car, and vote in Florida. Clearly, while you moved to Florida, you are unwilling to give up Vermont. Thus, the former is your domicile, while the latter is your residence.

Your chosen domicile can be deduced from where you reside and spend most of your time. It is impossible to change one's domicile simply by filing a Domicile Declaration elsewhere.

So, how do you give up an old domicile and establish a new one?

To give up an old domicile and establish a new one, sell or rent out the home in the old state, then move to own a home in the new state. Also, make your intention to stay permanently in the new state known.

That includes spending most of the year there, including the new address in your tax returns, passport, insurance records, etc. You can check here for further details. Remember, you may have more than one residence, but you can only have one domicile. It's where you live and spend most of the year.

You must invest time and effort to make your new domicile legally known as your permanent residence. Your new domicile must align with your lifestyle. This is where you register your car, vote, pay state taxes, and live with your children and spouse.

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