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Greetings!

My wife and I are planning on becoming fulltimers within the next two months. We currently live in Fitchburg, WI, near Madison, WI.

Although the Escapees mail and domicile services appear to be affordable and worthwhile, it would be disastrous for my health insurance and healthcare for me to take a domicile outside the State of Wisconsin. My Medicare Supplemental plans are based on Wisconsin Residency, and I don't want to disturb them.

Does anyone know of a service that will grant me a Wisconsin domicile address?

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8 hours ago, goldenskyhook said:

Does anyone know of a service that will grant me a Wisconsin domicile address?

Welcome to the Escapee forums! And thank you for choosing to join us. Please do not hesitate to join any of our conversations here or to start new ones. 

You can use a mail service located anywhere, without changing your present legal residency or domicile, as the two are not necessarily tied together, although they often are. Domicile is actually a legal term of our courts and is derived from a combination of many factors. I suspect that your health insurance is going to be looking for several things, starting with a physical address in WI and to include things like your driver's license and other state documents. Most insurance companies look for things to prove residency, similar to the state's requirements for a driver's license and for voting. The problem for you is that like most states, WI does require that you maintain a physical residential address in the state in order to qualify as a resident for driving, voting, and most other state legal requirements. The following comes from the website of Wisconsin DOT.

Quote

Two (2) proofs of residency are required.

The following documents are acceptable proof of Wisconsin residency when they include your name and current Wisconsin residence street address. Documents listing a post office box or commercial receiving agency as the mailing address are not acceptable. 

If you visit the link above, you will find more details to spell out exactly what they require, but in short they want proof that you have a residency address in the state and no business address or mail service is acceptable. That is a very common requirement and is one of the key reasons that so many of us change domicile when going to a fulltime lifestyle. If you have a family member who is willing to allow you to claim that as your residence, that could get around the address issue for your driver's license, voter registration, and other state documents, but it might also put your insurance at risk, in the event that they should ever discover that you do not actually live there. I suggest that for something as critical as your health insurance coverage, you should first talk with the insurance representative and then possibly an attorney. 

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This is helpful, except that I will no longer have a physical address in Wisconsin, as I will live full time in my RV. I just found out that if I get a "business mailbox" at a UPS store, I can use that as my physical address for domicile purposes. That would be true anywhere in the country.

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13 hours ago, sandsys said:

I Googled "Wisconsin mail forwarding service" and got a few hits. You might check into them.

Linda Sand

Thanks. I spent several hours chasing those down, and almost all of them are the same half-dozen or so providers who only have addresses in other states. There are some "virtual office" situations, but they are more expensive and the services aren't as good as Escapees.

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1 hour ago, goldenskyhook said:

I just found out that if I get a "business mailbox" at a UPS store, I can use that as my physical address for domicile purposes.

But you will not be able to use it for your driver's license and I doubt that your insurance will accept it. If you look at the link that I posted, it clearly states that a mail service is not acceptable for a driver's license. You might get away with not changing the address on your driver's license, but you won't be able to renew it when that time comes. And if you don't make your vehicle insurance aware of your change you could get refused for payment if you should need to file a claim, on the basis of not having a proper address. Please, check with your insurance agent for vehicles as well as the driver's license office. Don't find out the hard way.

Edited by Kirk W

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5 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums! And thank you for choosing to join us. Please do not hesitate to join any of our conversations here or to start new ones. 

You can use a mail service located anywhere, without changing your present legal residency or domicile, as the two are not necessarily tied together, although they often are. Domicile is actually a legal term of our courts and is derived from a combination of many factors. I suspect that your health insurance is going to be looking for several things, starting with a physical address in WI and to include things like your driver's license and other state documents. Most insurance companies look for things to prove residency, similar to the state's requirements for a driver's license and for voting. The problem for you is that like most states, WI does require that you maintain a physical residential address in the state in order to qualify as a resident for driving, voting, and most other state legal requirements. The following comes from the website of Wisconsin DOT.

If you visit the link above, you will find more details to spell out exactly what they require, but in short they want proof that you have a residency address in the state and no business address or mail service is acceptable. That is a very common requirement and is one of the key reasons that so many of us change domicile when going to a fulltime lifestyle. If you have a family member who is willing to allow you to claim that as your residence, that could get around the address issue for your driver's license, voter registration, and other state documents, but it might also put your insurance at risk, in the event that they should ever discover that you do not actually live there. I suggest that for something as critical as your health insurance coverage, you should first talk with the insurance representative and then possibly an attorney. 

I see your point, though I'm not sure how they'd ever know unless the address says "post office box" or some such. As for using a relative's address, I don't believe they can ding me for being a full time traveler, as long as I get back there every few months for a while. It would be my daughter's address (and I actually lived there for a few months, a while ago.) They can't say it's not my "residence" just because I travel a lot.

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3 minutes ago, goldenskyhook said:

I see your point, though I'm not sure how they'd ever know unless the address says "post office box" or some such.

Why not contact the office to get an answer directly? 

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40 minutes ago, goldenskyhook said:

They can't say it's not my "residence" just because I travel a lot.

They can if it is not your residence.  Traveling a lot has a limited amount to do with it.  It can be your residence if you and your daughter want it to be. But you have to have 1 one residence somewhere.  There are many many folks in rv clubs and not that have tried to figure a way to work the system but pretty much we have all learned from each other the best way and most legal way to do it.

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So how is this different from the Escapees domicile service? Isn't that the exact same thing, unless I want to park my rig in Livingston permanently?

This may be irrelevant, but I know that when people are trying to be pensionistas in Central American countries, they maintain their US citizenship and residency as long as they get back once every 6 months, and stay for at least a week. It would surprise me to learn that things between states are more rigid than that.

One of the big hurdles is that my doctor is here, and he prescribes me certain medications that cannot be ordered across state lines. It's also a bit controversial among docs, so it might be hard to find another one that would handle it properly. I also have a health insurance agent that I love and she handles a lot of headaches for me. I would lose her services as well if I move to another state.

I have nothing against Texas.

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1 hour ago, goldenskyhook said:

I'm not sure how they'd ever know unless the address says "post office box" or some such.

There is a directory that lists business vs. residential addresses. It tends to flag business addresses being claimed as residences. I know banks use it so why would insurance agencies not use it as well since insurance, as you've noticed, is based on location.

Reality is, full-timers cannot have everything they wish for. You must choose what is best for you then act accordingly. I remember there being one couple on this list who could not use Texas as their domicile because of the common-law marriage law there which would mess up certain aspects of their lives. My point is, everyone's needs are specific to them. If maintaining Wisconsin health coverage is the most important thing to you than you need to maintain a residence in Wisconsin. Gaming that system is not a choice I would make. YMMV.

Linda Sand

 

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Goldenskyhook,

One of the big differences is that there was a law case in Texas and Escapees address was judged to be a legal physical address for voting, etc.  I believe that South Dakota has now officially recognized someone having an address at an RV park that they stayed overnight at before registering will suffice as a legal address for DL, registration, voting.  And some Florida counties also will recognize a mail forwarding service address for purpose of DL, registration, voting, etc.   That's one reason that a lot of full timers use services in those three states.   Others do you an individual mail box at a UPS store - some states are ok with that for DL, reg purposes, others are not.  And a lot of full timers use a child's address (or other trusted relative) whether or not they have their mail delivered there.     Even though our daughter lives in Texas, we decided just to keep everything at the Escapees address and not burden her, she teaches school and has enough on her plate as it is!

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I think that's going to be the solution - use my daughter's address for residency and the Escapees mail service for my mail. I've gotten her permission to do that, and I"m awaiting an answer from Wisconsin DMV regarding the legality of that. They can't really expect to be able to force us to rent or buy a home, can they?

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41 minutes ago, goldenskyhook said:

They can't really expect to be able to force us to rent or buy a home, can they?

What it really comes down to in any state is that they want to be sure that you really reside in the state and pay taxes there if they are to provide services to you. And  yes, I do believe that they have the power to deny services if you do not actually reside in the state. TX, FL, and SD all have chosen to allow people who live in RVs, boats, or other mobile living situations to claim them as domicile and thus to get a driver's license, insurance, and the host of other services that are tied to your legal residence. But they are the exception as only a hand full of states are willing to do that, although there are a few more who do. 

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43 minutes ago, goldenskyhook said:

I think that's going to be the solution - use my daughter's address for residency and the Escapees mail service for my mail. I've gotten her permission to do that, and I"m awaiting an answer from Wisconsin DMV regarding the legality of that. They can't really expect to be able to force us to rent or buy a home, can they?

That  pretty much sounds like the best solution. There may be some limited exceptions on what can be mailed to your SKP address so it will be good to have the trusted daughter to forward that to you.  It has been so long I can't recall but I believe there has been one or two things I couldn't get mailed to a forwarding service way back when. My SKP "domicile" and address have pretty much eliminated that issue for me but it could  vary by state so continue to do your due diligence to make sure you are fine in Wisconsin.  We want it all to  be fun and no hassels if  possible.

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1 hour ago, sandsys said:

I remember there being one couple on this list who could not use Texas as their domicile because of the common-law marriage law there which would mess up certain aspects of their lives. 

Texas does recognize common-law marriages, but there are elements that are required to establish a common-law marriage.  One of them is representing yourselves as a married couple.  If a couple doesn't want to be common-law married in Texas, all they have to do is never represent themselves as being married. 

Also, contrary to what most people believe, a common-law marriage is never imposed on a couple based only on how long they have lived together.  Never.  In fact, there is no specified length of cohabitation, either minimum or maximum, among the requirements. 

But there always has to be holding out as a married couple, and people who claim a common-law marriage was forced on them against their will conveniently "forget" that they filed a tax return as married filing jointly for a tax advantage, or listed the other person as a "spouse" in order to get insurance, or some other situation where saying they were married worked to their advantage.  Their own actions establish the common-law marriage.

 

1 hour ago, goldenskyhook said:

I think that's going to be the solution - use my daughter's address for residency and the Escapees mail service for my mail. I've gotten her permission to do that, and I"m awaiting an answer from Wisconsin DMV regarding the legality of that. They can't really expect to be able to force us to rent or buy a home, can they?

I hope you get a favorable answer from them.  I wouldn't have gone that route.  Of course they can't force you to rent or buy a home, but a random DMV employee can say you can't use your daughter's address, even though there's likely no law that actually says that. 

It seems to me your case is a lot clearer than setting up domicile at an Escapees mail service, since you're maintaining your residency in Wisconsin and not picking a new state because of tax advantages, for example.  Why wouldn't you be able to move into your daughter's house and then travel a whole bunch?

The only problem I can fathom is your Medicare supplement provider, because some health insurance companies do have rules about actually living where you get your policy, and from a practical standpoint, some insurance plans don't cover people outside a given geographic region.  The problem is that if you ask, you might get an answer you don't want.  But in this case, it's not a matter of "why wouldn't you be able to do it," as it is with maintaining your Wisconsin domicile.  In the case of insurance, you're dealing with a contract and making representations to the insurance company.  And the only way you'll know it didn't work is when they deny a claim. 

So it's probably a good idea to get that one squared away, but you might want to think about how you present what you're doing.  An insurance company might view the same situation differently depending on how it's described, like if a person wants to do a lot of traveling and moves out of his own house and in with his daughter to not have to keep up a house and to lower his expenses, versus moving into the RV to get out of Wisconsin and travel for the rest of his life.  Tell the truth, obviously (insurance companies really don't like being lied to), but perhaps give some thought to how the narrative goes.

Vehicle insurance doesn't present the same challenges.  You do need to change yours to a "fulltimer" policy, though.  Only a limited number of companies offer that coverage, and they all engage in the fiction of a garaging address in those policies because fulltimers don't have an address where the vehicle actually "lives."  So you don't have the messiness of not actually having the vehicle at that location, because they acknowledge they know what you're doing when they issue the fulltimer policy.

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Well, we're just a common, garden-variety married couple - as far as our legal status, anyway. Otherwise, we're fairly uncommon in that it's been 35 years and we still feel like we're on our honeymoon!

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Yes, my daughter would handle a few forwards responsibly. That's my girl!

Even if the DMV person sheds doubts, I might do it anyway. As you said, it could easily be some office drone who doesn't actually know. As long as me and my daughter are on the same page, I don't see how they could cause trouble, and yes, one main reason for this is to not have to find a new Medicare Supplemental insurance provider. I paid deductibles for several years to reach the point where I don't have to any more, and I think I would lose that if I switch to a different provider.

I will be in Wisconsin most every summer, and I visit regularly with my daughters kids and family. That way I won't be completely absent from that address. Thanks for the heads up about maybe needing to upgrade my insurance to full time.

This is WAY more complicated than it needs to be!

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If you don't think your insurance company, DMV, or other account holders will know if your address is a commercial mail receiver like a UPS Store, think again. Most volume mailers use a "Delivery Point Validation" application that checks addresses against the USPS database to determine deliverability. The USPS database also identifies CMRA's (Commercial Mail Receiving Agency) such as UPS Stores and other commercial mail handlers.

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Good news! I just heard back from the Wisconsin DMV.

"Thank you for contacting the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles.

 

We do need a physical address to put on file for you, but it is ok to use a family member’s address (with their permission) if that is your address of record within the state. Our active-duty service members do exactly this as an example. If you wish to obtain the federally-compliant REAL ID when you renew in the next few months, you may wish to set up appropriate residency proofs ahead of your visit. I’ve attached a link to information on REAL ID below."

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We do need a physical address to put on file for you, but it is ok to use a family member’s address (with their permission) if that is your address of record within the state.

Emphasis added. I suggest that you also discuss this plan with your vehicle insurance agent and also with the health plan. 

Edited by Kirk W

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These are things I would do in your situation. I would ask my daughter if there is a room in her house that could be "mine". I would leave some of my "stuff" there even if it is primarily a box of mementos. I would consider staying in the house when in Wisconsin or, at least, parking my rig in her driveway if that is allowed. And I would register all government documents at that address including driver's license, income tax, will, voter registration, etc. Then I would feel better about traveling as long as I went back there at least once a year during which time I would have my annual physical. We had no trouble returning to Minnesota each summer to visit friends and family and to see our doctors there. Lots of people who live in the northern states head south for the winter so there's nothing unusual about doing that to raise any questions.

You said your doctor cannot write a prescription for a year's worth of medicine. Would he write six month ones if you visited spring and fall?

Linda

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The doctor can write most prescriptions to be filled anywhere, but with the two controlled substances, he cannot write more than three refills, it must be in Wisconsin, and they can't be stocked up ahead of time. Special thanks to the good old DEA! What a pain!

No room for the rig at her place, but I can definitely leave a few things there. If we did stay with them IRL, she'd double up the kids and give us one of the bedrooms anyway. I don't think we have to physically act that situation out if everyone is on the same page about our "story." I'm close with daughter, so it will be easy to do that.

 

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