Fedele and Murray, P.C.

17 Walpole Street, Norwood, MA 02062-3318 - (781) 551-5900

Changing Domicile

For many people, the idea of changing their domicile can be an important facet of their overall estate plan. This is particularly so for people who have homes in more than one state. In those situations, determining which state should be considered the domicile can have a number of important implications. A person can have only one domicile, or principal residence. Selecting the most appropriate site is very important and so are the steps needed to ensure that the selection made will be recognized by taxing authorities and others.

A popular state for many people is Florida. For those wishing to escape long, cold northern winters, spending more time in Florida is often a perfect choice. Add to that the potential tax savings, in that Florida has no income tax and no estate tax, the idea of changing one's domicile to a state such as Florida can be very attractive.

Generally, determining one's domicile is matter of one's subjective intent, i.e., where do you intend to reside permanently. Proving that intent, however, is often a matter of various objective indicia. Certainly, the testimony of the person as to where he or she intends to reside permanently is a critical piece of information. Such testimony, however, is not always persuasive to the various states' taxing authorities. Further, in the case of a decedent's estate, the only person who can testify to that subjective intent is deceased. In those cases, the only evidence remaining is the objective indications of where the person intended to reside.

There are a number of steps that a person can take to evidence their intent to change their domicile. While not meant to be exhaustive, the following list are some of the steps that one should consider taking. The more of them that you do, the better. Failing to do one or more of these is not necessarily fatal, however.

In all matters, try to look and act like an out-of-state resident who visits Massachusetts to see his family. Do not look like a local resident who leaves for extended vacations. Residency (domicile) is a question of fact and the more you look like a non-Massachusetts resident, the better will be the likelihood that the taxing authorities will not disagree with you and your estate.