What to Do if You Win the Lottery: A Step by Step Guide
The odds of winning the lottery — or one of the big payout lotteries — is around 1 in 300 million. While still not great, the odds of winning smaller lotteries or state-level lotteries are better. The thing about the lottery is that someone usually wins.
You might win one day. Maybe you’re just wondering what to do if your win the lottery or, better yet, you want to know what to do because you have a winning ticket already.
If you’re not sure about the next steps, keep reading. Our quick guide will give some crucial next steps to take that will protect you and your winnings.
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Secure Your Ticket
The very first step in securing your ticket is that you shouldn’t tell anyone about it, except your spouse. If you’re up for a big payout, someone might well try to steal the ticket.
Make copies of the ticket. You can physical copies and digital copies. Use some form of cloud storage to store a copy of the digital files, as well putting copies onto a flash drive or similar device.
Get a safe, lockbox, or safety deposit box to store the ticket until you’re ready to claim the prize.
You’ll want some help from legal and financial professionals before you claim the prize. Find a good tax attorney. They can help minimize the bill from the IRS.
You should also look for an accountant with experience helping high-value clients. Depending on your situation, you may also want a family planning attorney.
While you may not feel like you need one, you should also strongly consider a financial planner. Look for one who acts as a fiduciary. A fiduciary manages other people’s money, but they must do so for their clients’ benefit.
While you can’t avoid all media attention or the attention of people who will come looking for a piece of your winnings, you can limit it. Get new, unlisted phone numbers for yourself and your family members. Get a P.O. Box for all mail to help obscure your address.
Get off of social media. Delete any profiles you maintain.
What If I Need the Money Sooner?
When you win a substantial amount from the lottery, you can get a lump-sum payment or annuity lottery payments. If you get the annuity payments — which many winners choose — it can leave you in a tough spot down the road if you need more than the annuity pays out. The good news is that there are companies, such as Rightway Funding, that help you access those lottery winnings sooner.
What to Do If You Win the Lottery — Plan
There is one key answer to the question of what to do if you win the lottery. You must make a plan before you go public.
Keep the news very quiet. Bring in professionals that can help you manage the legal and financial issues that will crop up. Go very low profile by obscuring your address, leaving social media, and changing your phone numbers.
Looking for more financial advice? Check out the Finance posts in our Business section.