As they say, you can’t win if you don’t play, but what should you do if you play and win a lottery jackpot?
If anyone finds out, you will certainly become the center of attention. But before that happens, you need to make sure you secure your winnings.
Be quiet about winning
Financial and investment advisors say that if you win, you should not announce your winnings to anyone. First, make a plan before telling friends and family.
Make copies of the ticket, secure it
Don’t lose the ticket. State Farm says to make several copies of both sides of the ticket to show your lawyers and accountants. Then secure the actual ticket in a safe deposit box or personal safe. Once you’ve spoken to them, then sign the ticket.
Try to stay anonymous
In some states you can remain anonymous, but not all states will block the identity of the winners. Some states will disclose the identity of a winner after a certain period of time and depending on the amount of money won.
Here are the states where winners can keep their identities private, according to Fox News:
- Arizona: Prizes of $600 or more — 90 days. Prizes over $100,000 — the winner’s name can remain confidential, but not the winner’s city and county of residence.
- Delaware: Winners can remain anonymous.
- Florida: Winners of $250,000 or more can be anonymous for 90 days, but the name and city can be released to a third party after that time. The specific address and phone number can remain confidential. A winner can also stay anonymous after the 90-day deadline.
- Georgia: Winners of a prize that’s more than $250,000 can remain anonymous.
- Kansas: Lottery winners can request to stay anonymous.
- Maryland: Lottery winners can stay anonymous. Winners have to give specific consent to release their name or photo.
- Mississippi: The winner has to give the lottery organization written permission to have their identity released.
- Missouri: The state must have prior consent to publish a winner’s name.
- Montana: The winner must give permission to have their name released.
- New Jersey: Winners of prizes over $1 million can choose to stay anonymous.
- North Dakota: Winners can remain anonymous.
- Ohio: Winners can remain anonymous.
- South Carolina: Winners can remain anonymous.
- Texas: Winners of a $1 million prize or more can stay anonymous.
- Virginia: Winners of a $10 million prize or more can stay anonymous.
- West Virginia: Winners of a $1 million or greater prize can stay anonymous.
- Wyoming: Winners can request to stay anonymous.
Other states and U.S. territories will require winners to disclose their names, city and amount won.
Decide if you want to set up a trust
By using a trust, you may be able to keep your identity a secret. Check local and state laws regarding trusts when it applies to lottery winnings and anonymity.
Sign your ticket
Whoever’s signature is on the paper is the winner. There is no record other than the ticket itself of what numbers you’ve played. But if you want to try to keep your identity a secret, then you may be able to use a trust. Should you decide to claim the money that way, make sure you’re signing the ticket correctly.
You should also read the lottery game’s rules and contract before putting pen to paper.
Annuity or lump sum
Decide if you want to get a lump sum that will be less than the actual jackpot, or if you want the annuity payments. Lump sum, according to State Farm, can be about 60% of the total jackpot.
If you have financial restraint, you can make the lump sum last, but if you are prone to spending, the annuity payments may be a better route.
Be prepared for taxes
Some states tax lottery winnings. Others do not. Make sure you know if you have to pay and how much that bill will be for, Forbes reported.
Plan for the future
Eventually, the money will possibly be passed down to your family if something happens to you. Plan now so you know they are financially secure.
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