What to Do When You Win the Lottery!

CONGRATULATIONS! I know it’s hard to believe that you’ve actually won the lottery and I hope your hands are still shaking from excitement as you read this! Now, let’s take a deep breath and review some basic strategies before you do something you might forever regret! Such as telling your dim-wit, debt laden Bro-in-Law about your good fortune.

#1. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! There are some very important things you should do and consider before telling the world that you’re now a financial peer with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

#2. ENDORSE & SECURE YOUR WINNING TICKET. Lottery tickets are considered a presentation instrument. So if you lose it without having endorsed it, you may be SOL! Leave room on the endorsement section because you may have to add another entity (see Rule 5). Photograph/photo copy the endorsed winning ticket and then promptly put it in a fire proof safe or safe deposit box. [Also, don’t forget Rule 1, or your neighbor who never returned the rake he borrowed will be on your front door step graciously returning your rake AND now requesting to “borrow” some cash.]  

#3. FIND OUT HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE & WHETHER IT CAN BE CLAIMED ANONYMOUSLY. There are deadlines ranging from three months to a year to claim your prize. Find out asap how much time you have to get your affairs in order before claiming the winnings.  Some States allow you to claim a prize anonymously but many require public disclosure. Also, some Lottery Rules require winners to appear at press conferences and participate in public events or announcements. [Are you still good with Rule 1? Because if not, here come all of your co-workers and their tales of financial woes.]

#4 CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER. On the off chance you’ve disregarded Rule 1 but even if you have not, it’s still a good idea because sooner or later your loser Bro-in-Law is going to find out about your winnings and he has some “really boss ideas” on how to invest your money for you!  

#5. GET LEGAL ADVICE ASAP. Now you can finally tell someone about your new found wealth! The attorney-client privilege will prevent your lawyer from disclosing that you are client and/or the nature and extent of his or her representation. If you want to remain anonymous a lawyer can help you determine if the funds can be claimed by an innocuous charity or foundation that you establish and/or maybe negotiate for your privacy with the Lottery. Some lotteries will allow you to remain anonymous but you have to give up some of the winnings to do so. Even if you can’t remain anonymous a lawyer can tell you how to set up various entities to help shelter and protect your winnings from the vultures. A lawyer can also work with a tax advisor and financial consultant to help establish short term and long term priorities for your wealth.
#6.  MAKE YOUR LAWYER THE “BAD GUY.” Sooner or later, it’s likely your family, friends and co-workers will learn of your lottery good fortune. Also, there’s a good chance you’ll be contacted by legitimate and illegitimate strangers seeking financial assistance. Instead of you having to be the bad guy saying “no,” just tell them the lawyer has everything tied up in long term CITs…Charitable Investment Trusts and he or she is responsible for managing your money and all inquires for funds should go through him or her. You can let your lawyer know who you want to help and to what extent and let him or her make the delivery. 
Again Congratulations on winning the Lottery. Understand, your financial good fortune will bring a side effect of stress and concern.  Following these simple guidelines will help reduce that stress and enable you to enjoy your winnings to the fullest.