In order to obtain the homestead exemption you would need to be a permanent resident of Florida. Your father's homestead exemption should not affect your ability to homestead the property once it is in your possession and you comply with Florida Statutes.
Ms Gerling offers sound advice. There do not appear to be any impediments to claiming your own exemption.
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I am not sure what you mean by "homestead penalty." You are entitled to a homestead exemption (which reduces taxes) if you live in the house as your permanent residence. If your dad lives out of state and the Florida house is a vacation home or rental property, he is not entitled to a homestead exemption. If you dad transfers to house to you, you can apply for the homestead exemption. If you want the exemption for 2013, you must complete the transfer and move into the house before the end of this month. You should consult an experienced real estate lawyer in your area to help you with this transaction.
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I agree with Mr. Deason. I write only to point out that transferring this property will have other consequences that you may not have considered, but which you should. First, this would be considered a gift and your father would need to file a gift tax return. Second, YOU would receive a carry-over basis in the property, which might cause you to have a significant income tax penalty, when you sell it. You may save property taxes only to pay thousands of dollars more in income taxes. Before doing this, you should meet with a CPA or tax attorney to see if there is a way to structure this that would allow you to avoid these issues.
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