Against all odds of the lottery game there are people who beat such odds and put their name in the winners list. It is said that in extreme grief and in intense joy many lose their heads. Becoming a winner is just great but you need to keep a cool head ahead and now what to do next so as to protect your money, privacy and yourself. The first and most important step – sign your ticket
So what do the winners should do. Should they just hope and dream or open their wide mouth in amazement. Well there is much to do beyond ‘ Wow and Awe’.
You need to do careful planning
From the moment you knew you had won you need to do careful planning. Certainly, winning this or any other big lottery prize would be transformative, and potentially not in a good way. Most of those who buy lottery tickets on a regular basis or who pick up tickets when the jackpots get really, really big, tend to spend their time thinking about how to spend the money.
Should you win, however, you need to start at the other end of the spectrum, and start thinking about how to protect both your money and yourselves. Because there are some truly ugly statistics out there showing that 70% of lottery winners end up losing it all: some blow through all their money and end up destitute, while others end up losing their lives, even being murdered for their riches.
Protect your privacy in every possible way
In many cases, the good folks at Powerball have the right to splash your name and image, clutching one of those giant faux cheques, across media organizations worldwide. So you’d better be prepared.
The first step is to sign the back of your ticket. An unsigned ticket can be grabbed by anyone and claim the prize and be off to their dreams and hopes with your billion-dollar prize, entirely legally.
After you sign it, and before you claim your prize, put that ticket in a safe deposit box. Then seek out a reputable lawyer, one accustomed to dealing with trusts and estates – even if the process of finding the right person takes you weeks or a few months. Depending on the state in which you live, you’ll have anywhere from 90 days to a full year in which to claim your prize, so make full use of that full space.
If you are not able to find a good lawyer then search the Google and type “trusts and estates”; look for a big, reputable law firm with a presence in many large cities and that is likely to have experts in many fields, including tax law, because you’ll need them. You will be able to afford them and you can also consult the American Bar Association, which maintains lists of experts in various fields. The bar can provide you with the track record of any lawyer and reassure you that he/she hasn’t been disbarred.
Add a publicist to your list of recruits to team lottery winner
If state laws allow as most do the lottery organizers will release your name, the city you live in and the county, as well as the exact size of the jackpot. From there, it will be fairly easy to find out where you live and get hold of your phone number unless you’ve already moved. So, add a publicist to your list of recruits to Team Lottery Winner, and plan to be gone by the time the news breaks.
You can rent a hotel room or house with the help of a trustworthy friend, or have your attorney create a limited liability company (LLC) that cannot be traced back to you and use it to rent or buy a new apartment or house. Change your phone numbers, and your e mail addresses, and take down your social media profiles. If you are working give your employers a few hours’ notice of what is to come: more, and they’ll tip off the media; less, and they’ll feel blindsided. You don’t want that, if it’s a job you want to keep doing because you actually like it or rely on it for a sense of meaning or purpose.
Plan for your family and friends
Have a strategic plan in place for how you’ll address this with family and friends, to avoid envy setting in. You’ll want to share your good fortune, in all probability. So, sit down and think about what their needs and wants are – new houses, college tuitions, trust funds – and draw up a list. Then present those to them as gifts. Also remember, there will be gift taxes to pay; make sure that the gifts are structured in such a way that you’ll be footing that bill, not them. That could help offset some of the inevitable strains that your newfound wealth will put on the friendship. At least it will mean they don’t feel they can ask for money initially, and you aren’t confronted with the dilemma of wanting to say “no”, but not feeling able to do so.
Find a way to shield yourself and your assets from unknown predators
Many of your far cousins or friends will ask you outright for such gifts because they don’t feel that you earned that money. You’ll have to find a way to shield yourself and your assets from those wannabe predators.
A first step is to have a good knowledge of your family tree, to winnow out the pretenders from the real relatives. Pass that along to a staff member, and make it their job to shield you from these requests. Give them a form letter that spells out that you have a non-profit philanthropic foundation, and they are welcome to apply to it for a grant.
Also working to give money away and to improve the lives of others will give you and your family a way to focus on something that is constructive involving the money that has just reshaped your lives. Working together, you can seek out projects that reflect your ideas and values, and transform the lives of others.
Make right decisions
Before you indulge in giving money to improve life of others you need to be first make yourself financial future. That means making sure you make the right decision for you and your family on whether to take the lottery payout in the form of a lump sum or annual payments, and ensure that all the taxes are paid. Then, pay down all your outstanding debts with the exception, perhaps, of your mortgage. It’s possible that the mortgage interest deduction may help lower your taxes in coming years, so talk to your accountant and tax adviser about this.
Keep funding your retirement accounts and college savings plans, and get secured yourself against the nightmare of a poverty-stricken old age, or the prospect that your children won’t be able to attend college. After reviewing your spending habits over the course of a year, ask your advisory team for some hard-headed advice: should you turn some or all of your remaining winnings into an annuity, so that it generates a safe stream of income over your remaining lifespan.
It is not only winning Powerball but you need to beat the odds again on your winnings if you take time to plan the above things carefully.