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What Should You Do If You Win the Lottery?!?!

Pipe

The Mega Millions and Powerball Jackpots are growing! How can you avoid ending up on a television show about how the Lottery ruined your life?

1. Don’t play the Lottery. It’s a waste of your money. The odds are greater that you’ll be killed by a shark or struck by an object falling from the sky, like a meteorite.1 CNBC estimates your odds of winning the $970 million Mega Millions jackpot is 1 in 302.6 million. Obviously, we have to tell you this since we’re wealth advisors. It’s also a bit hypocritical since a few of us here may have purchased a ticket. Of course, please remember us when it comes to managing those millions if you absolutely can’t help yourself!

2. If you live in or are close to the borders of Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, or South Carolina, it’s better to buy your ticket there. These are the only states that allow you to stay anonymous.

3. If you’re playing the lottery as a group, make sure everyone in the group signs a piece of paper that states how you’ll claim the money (lump sum is probably the most logical), attach that piece of paper to photo copies of the tickets purchased, and give everyone in the group a copy of the signatures and lottery tickets.

4. If you win, DON’T TELL ANYONE other than your attorney, CPA, and wealth advisor! Do not call your best friend. Do not call your mother. The first meeting you need to have is with an estate planning attorney who has experience with significant wealth, and who has experience creating the appropriate entities to claim that prize while allowing you to stay as anonymous as possible! This will be harder to control with a group of people, but the same concept really applies. You need to find out how to proceed as a group.

5. How that ticket is signed is extremely important, and that’s probably the first thing you need to ask your attorney about. You do not want an unsigned ticket out there. Most states, including Missouri, do not allow you to claim your prize anonymously. Someone or something must publicly claim the prize. A recent New Hampshire court ruling did allow a lottery winner to remain anonymous after she signed the back of her ticket in her individual name, but there’s no guarantee that will happen in every state. Every state has its own rules. It’s important to know what your state requires and what name or entity should be put on the back of the ticket.

6. After you receive instructions about signing the ticket, take pictures of the ticket and put it in a safe place like a safe deposit box or your fireproof safe. You won’t be headed to claim the prize until you have all the legal issues worked out.

7. Meet with your wealth advisor (that’s us). We will help you develop the appropriate plan for those funds, and help you make the decision about how to accept the winnings. We work closely with your attorney and CPA to help you grow and pass that money along to future generations. As you will now face significant tax issues, it’s imperative that you employ qualified professionals to help you navigate the complexities that come along with extreme wealth. As a new member of the “Estate Tax Problem Club,” we’re going to become your best friend! We will often be your voice of reason as you transition into your new lifestyle. According to the CFP Board, nearly one-third of lottery winners will actually declare bankruptcy.2

8. Try to hold off on making any big and obvious changes. People will figure it out if you move from a $150,000 home to a $10,000,000 home next month. This is where the wealth advisor’s voice of reason is helpful. The lottery can ruin your life.

9. Good luck, but read item 1 again…especially the part about calling HighTower St. Louis Wealth Advisors if you win!



1 http://fortune.com/2018/01/04/powerball-number-odds/
2 https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/29/what-to-do-if-you-win-the-lottery-in-2018.html

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