What To Do If You Win The Lottery

Imagine this: You have your US Powerball lottery tickets in hand and the results of the draw have just been announced. You take a look and check your numbers, one after the other. The main numbers match and then the extra number as well. Could it be? Is it true? Did you just win a multi-million-dollar jackpot? Yes, you won the lottery!

Your first impulse is probably to shout out this amazing news not only to your family and friends, but to everyone you can. After all, it’s not every day that you win the lottery, that you see your dreams come true. Why shouldn’t your family share the excitement? Why shouldn’t your friends realize how lucky you are, and how lucky they are to know you? But, wait! Before you begin announcing your lottery win, step back and carefully consider your next moves.

To help you understand what to do if you win the lottery, we have compiled a list of legal and financial considerations - give them some serious thought before you make any decisions. Hopefully you will find this helpful. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. And begin planning your future as a lottery jackpot winner. And of course, congratulations on your big win!

Win the jackpot? Safeguard your winning ticket!

Before you celebrate your lottery win and decide how to spend your jackpot money, you should make sure that you actually won the prize. Check your ticket again carefully and make sure your numbers match those on the lottery's official website. Also, confirm that your ticket has the correct drawing date. If everything matches, you are indeed a jackpot winner!

safeguard your winning lottery ticket

You’re probably asking what is the first thing you should do when you realize that you won the lottery? The answer is to simply sign the back of your ticket. The ticket is not officially yours until you do.

According to Zack Friedman, Senior Contributor Personal Finance at Forbes.com, “a lottery ticket is considered a bearer instrument, which means that whoever signs the ticket can claim the lottery winnings.”

Imagine losing an unsigned ticket! Whoever found it would be able to present it to lottery officials and legally claim the prize and there would be nothing you would be able to do about it. So, sign it!

That said, the way you sign your winning lottery ticket is very important. In the United States, each state has different regulations defining how to claim lottery prizes. In some jurisdictions, you can claim lottery prizes anonymously and doing so may depend on how you signed the ticket. Following the advice of an experienced legal advisor is therefore crucial.

Once your ticket is signed, make photocopies of its front and back. Then, secure the original winning ticket in a very safe place, such as a safety deposit box. You will only need this original ticket when you go to claim your prize.

Luckily, when you play the lottery online at theLotter, the official lottery tickets purchased on your behalf are stored securely at theLotter’s local office. Once you win the jackpot, representatives of theLotter will contact you and coordinate how and when you will receive your winning ticket as in most cases, you will need to collect your jackpot prize in person.

Keep quiet about your lottery win

Lottery winners are cautioned to keep quiet and not to broadcast their exciting lottery news to the world. Except for close, immediate family members, the advice is not to share the news with co-workers and friends. Not yet, anyways.

News of lottery wins travels fast. Especially if you win from a big lottery like Mega Millions or the pan-European EuroMillions. If word of your lottery win gets out before you are ready, acquaintances and long-lost relatives will approach you to see how they can benefit from your newfound wealth. More than that, people who you don’t even know will claim they have a connection to you and insist that they, too, are entitled to some of the prize money. Charities will contact you and ask you to make donations and you may even be approached by people asking you to join them in questionable business opportunities.

Assemble a team of professionals

Yes, technically, you can show up at lottery headquarters on your own to claim your jackpot prize but if you want to safeguard your winnings, you shouldn’t even consider that possibility. For the first time in your life you are dealing with a tremendous amount of wealth and to handle this properly, you need to work with a team of experienced professionals.

Assemble a team of professionals

The decisions you make even before you show up to collect your prize could drastically affect how much money you will receive. The first thing you should do is to retain a lawyer with experience representing lottery winners. As regulations about lottery wins differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the lawyer you hire should be familiar with working within the legal framework of the state where your winning lottery ticket was purchased.

Additional members of the team you form must include financial planners, accountants, and tax advisers. It sounds like a lot but we're talking about an account with hundreds of millions of dollars in it.

Based on your circumstances, the lottery you won, the amount of your prize, and your residence, your team will advise you whether to claim the prize yourself, whether they should claim it on your behalf, or whether they should help you create a legal entity so that you can claim the prize anonymously. Laws and tax regulations, especially the US lottery tax for foreigners, differ from state to state and your professional team will advise you how best to proceed.

Choose to take a lump-sum cash payment or annuity payments

When you win a jackpot playing Powerball or Mega Millions, you can choose between two options how to receive your prize money. You can choose to receive a one-time lump-sum cash payment of the prize (which is a smaller amount), or you can choose to receive annuity payments of the jackpot.

lump sum vs annuity

While most lottery winners choose to take the cash option, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The amount of money you will have at your disposal to spend and to invest; the amount of taxes you will pay initially and later on; and even the value of the estate you will leave your children depend on the way you receive your lottery winnings. Because this is all very complicated, work with your professional team to choose the best way forward.

Choose to remain anonymous or not

While some states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous when they collect their jackpot prizes, other states require that basic information about winners be released to the public, including name, city, and the amount won for all prizes, not only the jackpots. Why is this so? The lotteries are striving for transparency in their operations. They want the public to know that ordinary people can, and do, win lottery prizes, even incredible jackpot prizes worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Publishing the names of prize winners increases the public's trust in the fairness of lottery draws.

going public with your lottery win

If you choose to retain your privacy, your lawyer may be able to assist you even in states that require lottery winners to go public. In certain cases, your lawyer will be able to establish a legal entity, or trust, which would be able to collect the prize anonymously on your behalf.

If on the other hand, you claim your prize publicly, you can expect to be barraged with media requests for interviews. Consider if this publicity is in your best interest. In addition, you will need to deal with friends, relatives, and charities all asking (and sometimes demanding) a share of your good fortune.

No matter if you choose to go public or to remain anonymous, you should consider shutting down all your social media accounts. If word gets out that you just won the lottery, there will be a lot of people searching for you online and you don’t want all these strangers contacting you and/or using your name in online scams.

Where do you go if you win the lottery?

You have six months to a year to claim your lottery winnings depending on where you win. You have probably heard tales of unclaimed prizes and stories of winning lottery tickets that were lost, so you want to make sure to collect your prize in time. That said, there is no need to show up at lottery headquarters immediately. Assemble your team of professionals, as mentioned above, and work with them to determine how, and when, your prize will be collected.

If you’re ready to claim your prize, there’s no need to delay it. Reduce your stress level by moving forward with this and get on with the rest of your financially-improved life.

If you decide to go public with your win, make sure to have a public relations strategy in place before you show up to receive your over-sized publicity check. The media is going to hound you for information so take this into account when you plan what to do when you win the lottery.

Manage your lottery winnings

Playing the lottery is something you do for fun and it is certainly not something you do to improve your financial situation. If, however, you get lucky and win big, you need to make plans. No one would want to squander their fortune like some previous prize winners have done. Hasty decisions and poor planning have more often than not resulted in bankruptcies. If you're wondering where do you go if you win the lottery, your advisers will advise you how to achieve your financial goals by helping you pick the best way to save your money and make sound investments. Together with your professional team, you will create a solid asset management plan for you and your immediate family. Whether you want to set aside money for a little nest egg or your children's education, invest in business opportunities or buy real estate properties, or even spend money on the finer things in life, a financial planner can help you reach your goals.

managing your lottery winnings

Pay off your debts! Many advisers say that paying off one's debts is the best investment that one can make. “Pay off all high-interest debt immediately, and then tackle the rest of your debt," says Rich Ramassini, a certified financial planner and director of strategy and sales performance at PNC Investments. There’s no reason to owe money if you have just won a fortune.

Avoid big purchases! Although you may be inclined to immediately spend your fortune on a seaside mansion and a fleet of Jaguars and Rolls Royces, these extravagant purchases will attract a lot of unwanted attention. Many advisors recommend that you don’t do anything drastic, like quitting your job, for at least the first six months after winning the lottery so that you can get used to your new lifestyle.

Invest wisely! As a wealthy lottery winner, you will find many opportunities to invest but many of the people who approach you may be suggesting shady business deals. Work together with your financial planners on short- and long-term investment strategies and don't put all your eggs in one basket. Save money for the future. Don't spend it all at once!

Be charitable, but carefully! You should share your newfound wealth with family members, of course, but you can also make a good name for yourself by making donations to charities. But, be careful, as you will be badgered by many requests from charities and organizations you’ve never heard of before, and some of which might not be totally legit. An advantage of making donations to charities is that by doing so, you may offset some of your tax obligations.

Still confused about what to do when you win the lottery?

When you win the lottery and become rich overnight, you will have a lot to think about it. Your immediate concern should not be how long after winning the lottery do you get the money, but what you will do with it when you do. There is no need to rush into quick decisions that you will regret afterwards! You can act responsibly and enjoy your lottery windfall while guaranteeing your financial future.

what to do when you win the lottery

All the above-mentioned advice is also valid if you're wondering what happens if you win the lottery online. When you win the jackpot playing at theLotter. We will help in collecting your prize, but you should still set up a team of professionals to advise you regarding your financial future. Make your plans carefully and wisely and you will be able to enjoy your lottery jackpot win for a lifetime!