We all dream of beating the terrible lottery odds to become an overnight millionaire, but few have any idea what to do when you do you win the lottery!
We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help any lucky lottery winners, which is broken into three parts: when you’ve just won, when you first get the money, and building a future. And remember, what not to do when you win the lottery is equally as important as what you should do.
PART ONE – Before You Claim Your Winnings
Firstly, we’ll look at what to do – and not do – when you’ve just found out that you’ve won the lottery.
1. Try To Resist Telling Everyone
It might be really tempting to jump on social media and start telling the world about your lottery win, but you need to stay focused and consider your options. Your life is about to change dramatically.
Keep the win to yourself for a couple of days, just to allow the enormity of the situation to sink in.
After a couple of days, tell your closest family and friends – the people who you trust with such a large secret.
Don’t tell other people until after the money has been claimed and you’re ready to deal with the change. You want to keep your privacy for as long as possible.
2. Sign Your Ticket And Read All The Instructions
Most importantly, sign your ticket and make a photocopy to avoid losing it. Whoever signs the ticket is legally allowed to claim the prize, so make sure you do this.
Carefully read all the information on your ticket and the lottery website incase there’s any small print. There may be a specific time or date you need to collect the winnings by.
If the instructions say you need to phone the company, call them. If it says to contact them online, do that. Take care to follow the correct steps so you don’t make any errors with the claiming process that could prevent you from claiming your winnings.
The lottery representative you speak with will be able to advise you about the whole process, from claiming the money, through to any expectations they might have of you, including publicity. You should feel much less anxious once you’ve spoken to someone and understand the process.
3. Hire Professional Help: Financial, Legal and Tax Advisors
It is absolutely vital that you hire professional help as soon as possible, before you even start the process of claiming your prize.
Hire a financial and tax advisor. They will help you decide whether to take a lump-sum payment or annuity payments over a period of time.
Hire an attorney. They will help you deal with the legal aspects of winning the lottery.
Hiring help isn’t usually cheap, however, most companies will be happy to wait until you’ve received your winnings before requesting payment. You don’t have to take their advice, but most winners decide that it’s the least stressful option.
PART TWO – When You First Receive the Money
What should you do in the days after the money lands in your bank account?
1. Stay Anonymous
If you are allowed to remain anonymous, we recommend doing so.
Speak with your attorney to see if you are obliged to do any mandatory publicity jobs for the company running the lottery.
Ensure that all requests for publicity go through your attorney.
If you aren’t obliged to disclose your identity, think about whether you want to go public and the implications that could have. Standing with a giant check shows the world you have just come into a whole lot of money; you don’t want any unwanted attention from criminals.
2. Speak To Your Professional Advisors
There’s a big decision to make about your lottery prize: how you will receive your winnings?
As mentioned earlier, you will have to choose between getting the money in a number of instalments over the coming years, or in one lump sum.
Discuss this decision with both your financial, legal and tax advisors to help you manage your new-found wealth.
A lump sum of cash could encourage reckless spending. The value of money diminishes over time. There are pros and cons for both options, which your team will help you with.
3. Keep Your Job
For many, the first thing they plan on doing after getting their lottery money is stepping down from their job. But you should avoid making rash lifestyle changes overnight.
Resist the temptation to hand in your notice. A job provides structure to your day, and this structure will be important when it comes to coping with your wealth and fame.
Only once you have planned everything with your professional team, including financially, should you consider doing this.
You might even decide to keep working indefinitely and never tell anyone about how rich you are.
PART THREE – Making The Most Of Your Money For A Happy Future
After a while, the attention on you will die down, however, there will still be a few things you absolutely must do.
1. Pay Off Your Debts
Pay off your mortgage, car payments, credit cards, student loan, medical bills – whatever.
Once this is done, you know that they money you have left is yours to spend how you like.
Don’t forget that you also still need to pay your taxes. Your professional financial advisors can help with this.
2. Set Rules – And Stick to Them
One of the most stressful parts of winning the lottery is coping with the many requests you’ll get for money.
To avoid any issues surrounding friends and family, set rules. Tell yourself that you’ll only give to specific people, and that you’ll turn down anyone asking you for money. Be strong when dealing with people just coming out of the woodwork.
Avoid handing out loans. If you’re going to spend money, give gifts instead. This avoids the hassle and bad feeling that can sometimes go with chasing people for loan repayments.
Keep a budget of how you want to live. Your money won’t last forever. Think about how much you can spend annually to give you an idea of how you can make this money last a lifetime.
3. Invest And Protect Your Money
Consult your financial planners and get their advice on investments. They will guide you on how to spend your money to get the highest returns.
Don’t fall for investments that sound too good to be true. You will most likely lose out.
If you’re rich, you need to protect your assets. The last thing you need is someone suing you (people will try!). Ask your team to organize asset protection strategies that will create barriers from people who want to take you down.
But the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Although your life has now changed, and that can seem daunting, it’s changed for the better! If you follow this guide, you should avoid any nasty traps and enjoy the easy life – that’s what winning the lottery is all about, after all!
If you read this but haven’t actually won any money yet, check out this post on the lotteries with the best odds. Who knows, you may need to come back to remind yourself what to do when you win the lottery…