In What State Is My Financial Account Located?

Jon Alper Florida Asset Protection Planning

Many Florida residents have securities accounts at national financial firms such as Fidelity, Schwab etc. These national firms have home offices in states outside of Florida. Some do not have retail offices in Florida. One of my clients had established a tenants by entireties account at a national financial firm with no retail Florida offices He asked whether his account was legally located at the firm’s home office or in Florida where the client is domiciled.

The client was concerned that a judgment creditor could garnish the account at the financial firm’s home office which was located in a jurisdiction that does not recognize tenants by entireties immunity.

In general, most financial firms consider their client’s accounts to be located where the client resides. At my suggestion, this person sent an email to the financial firm asking where the firm considered his account situated. The firm wrote back stating that the firm considered the client’s account to be at the client’s home address (Florida in this case).

I believe that the law provides that national financial accounts properly are located in the owner’s state of residence and that Florida exemptions apply to these accounts. This is especially true when, as in this client’s case, the national firm’s policy is to situate accounts where their clients reside. Nevertheless, when a Florida resident is sued in a foreign state the safest plan is to move your exempt financial accounts to a Florida based firm that does not have any branches outside the state. That tactic avoids the possibility of the debtor fighting to asset his Florida exemptions in the courts of the foreign state..

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