Florida Estate Planning and Probate Law Blog focused on recent case law and planning ideas.


The term “Snowbird” refers to an individual who spends their winters in one of the sunshine states (Florida, Arizona, etc..) and their summers in one of the cooler weather states (Northeast, Northwest, etc..). Most Snowbirds claim one of the sunshine states, without or a limited state income tax, as their permanent residence. Problems can arise for a Snowbird when their former state of residence still deems them to be a resident of that state and subject to its states taxing authority. For example, a New York resident is subject to both state and federal income taxes on all income earned. In contrast, a Florida resident is only subject to New York income taxes on income derived from “New York sources” (rental income, etc.). When challenged, a former New York state resident will be forced to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that they intended to moving to Florida or another one of the sunshine states permanently and not just a rouse to avoid their former state of residences income tax burden. While “intent” can be a very subjective test, states with income taxes and estate taxes use written audit guidelines to help them determine a taxpayer intent (where is your permanent place of abode). They will examine and look at where you spend more than one hundred eighty-three days a year, business involvement, family connections, your driver’s license registration, where you are registered to vote, where you maintain your family heirlooms, works of art, books, antiques, family photo albums and receive your mail. It is important, to avoid this dilemma, that if you intend to make Florida your permanent residence you: (i) obtain the homestead exemption on your Florida residence; (ii) register to vote in Florida (even if you are renting a home or condominium); (iii) register your vehicles in Florida; (iv) update your estate planning documents to reflect Florida as your state of residency; and (v) affiliate with a Florida house of worship (church, temple, mosque, etc..).