homepage logo

Real Estate Law | Owner could consider changing homestead to Florida

By ERIC P. FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Jan 12, 2024

Eric P. Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I read your article weekly and enjoy learning from you and your other readers. Now I have a question.

We own our Cape Coral home but have no homestead in Florida. Our Michigan home is land attached to three of our adult children.

We reside in Florida from the middle of October through the first of June. My husband is a Vietnam veteran, 100% disabled. As our property taxes have increased consistently, my question, is there any tax breaks available without changing our homestead to Florida. If so how do we go about requesting them?

Janet P.

Dear Janet:

Thank you for reading the column, and for the very good question posed.

Short answer is, to obtain most property tax deductions, including as a disabled veteran, you must be homesteaded here in Florida. You note that you are here over six months every year, I expect your benefit in Michigan would not outweigh the benefit of 100% tax exemption. Have you considered changing your homestead to Florida?

The one benefit you do have is that tax assessed value is capped at 10% increases every year for non-homesteaded property. I note you are receiving a substantial benefit from this cap, as your property was taxed this year at a value $100,000 less than the market taxable value. This saves you almost $2,000 a year in property taxes. I hope that news makes things better!

I also note you own this property as husband and wife. If you intend to hold this property into the indefinite future, I recommend all my clients have a life estate deed naming their beneficiaries, or to create a trust. This allows you to maintain full ownership and control of the property, including the ability to sell, while avoiding probate court if you died while owning it.

Great information can be found at the property appraiser’s website, leepa.org, on all the potential deductions and exemptions available.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 35 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Cape Coral to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 22 years, and they have four children. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar, and primarily practices in real estate law and wills and trusts. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. He can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or 239-542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.