If You Win The Lottery

Before Claiming Your Prize

Laying a good foundation is key to making the most of your good fortune. Before you rush out to claim your winnings, address the following items first:
  1. 1. Keep the ticket safe
    First of all sign and protect your winning lottery ticket. Make paper copies, store digital copies, buy a home safe or take the ticket to the bank to store it in a safe deposit box. If you are somehow separated from the ticket, your signature should help ensure you still get the prize.
  2. 2. Chill Out
    Depending on where you bought the ticket, prize winners have between 180 days and one year from the date of the drawing to claim their prize. Before you decide to prove you've won, however, it's best to first enlist the help of a team of pros: an attorney a financial planner and an accountant.It sometimes happens where winners face legal claims from coworkers who either went in on a ticket or declined to and now want a piece of the action.
  3. 3. Remain anonymous if possible
    It's best not to announce to the world that you've won. An attorney can help create a legal entity — i.e., a revocable trust or a family limited partnership — that protects your identity. Tell the fewest people possible. Good news spreads fast, and you may have news media coming to your door or people calling before you have a chance to place your claim or put your ticket in a safe place.
  4. 4. Choose a lump sum or yearly payments
    Figure out whether to take the lump sum or 30 allotments over 29 years. When someone wins the lottery, I can only imagine the line of family and “friends” at the door with their hands out. That’s how the march to bankruptcy begins. When you take the annuity lifetime income stream instead of the lump sum, you are placing annuity handcuffs on these ungrateful beggars. Yes, they will show up every year for the rest of your life when your annuity payment arrives, but at least that will be a contractual filter.
  5. 5. Take a deep breath
    Before spending a dime, think about what this sudden wealth means. Not only financially, but emotionally. Before giving in to the temptation to fill your driveway with multiple cars, boats and motorcycles, give yourself time to process the magnitude of your win. This is often when winners begin to think about their legacy and what contributions they want to make.
  6. Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy
    Pay Off Debt. Start an Emergency Fund. Help Family and Friends, Put Away Money for Retirement, Setup College Funds. Give to Those Less Fortunate. Learn to Say No. If you’ve won the lottery, consider the tips above. You’ll be familiar with what to do should your lottery dream come true.