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6 things to do before claiming your lottery prize

Editorial / OpinionEditorial / Opinion: 6 things to do before claiming your lottery prize
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What should you do if you win the lottery? Take it from someone who has developed a national reputation for working with sudden wealth recipients — or as a client recently remarked, a "lottery financial adviser": There are countless financial, tax and legal strategies that you can take to make the most of your sudden money — but not so fast! Winning the lottery is a unique sudden wealth event that requires several immediate decisions. Here are six things you should do before you claim your lottery prize:

1. Sign the ticket. You want to make sure you immediately sign the winning lottery ticket. Lottery tickets are "bearer" instruments. This means that whoever holds the ticket is the winner. I would also suggest you take a photo and video of yourself with the ticket. If something unforeseen happens, these steps can go a long way to prove you are the winner.

2. Take care of yourself. This step has nothing to do with your lottery prize and everything to do with you and your health. While everybody handles these things differently, it's not uncommon to experience anxiety, paranoia or even a strange out-of-body feeling. For some, these feelings are fleeting, but for others, they can persist and make it hard to sleep, function or make logical decisions. So, first and foremost, make sure you take care of yourself. Seek professional help if necessary.

3. Decide if you want a lump-sum or an annuity. With a big lottery win, you will often have the option of taking a lump sum payout or a pay structure over time. This will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Although a great majority of lottery winners opt to receive a lump sum payment, there are definitely some advantages (and disadvantages) in taking the payout over time. You'll want your accountant and financial adviser to review both options and discuss the pros and cons of each. The big advantage for taking the money over time is that it provides you with a "do over" card. We've all heard the stories of lottery winners who have lost it all in a few short years. By getting the money over time, even if things go badly the first year, you will have many more chances to get it right. It's definitely something to think about sooner rather than later, because in some states, while you may have 180 days from the drawing to claim the prize, you may only have 60 days if you want a lump-sum check. Also, the day you claim the prize, you will need to make your decision, so you'll want to get your team assembled so they can crunch the numbers for you.

4. Assemble your team. When you win a large lottery, you'll want to make sure you have a stellar team who can help you make the best decisions. You'll want an attorney — actually, you'll undoubtedly use many attorneys (e.g., business, tax, trusts and estate), but don't worry about finding everyone on day one. Find a good attorney to guide you through the initial steps and who can introduce you to others as needed. And at a minimum, you will also want a CPA and a certified financial planner who have experience guiding clients who have received sudden money.

5. Make a publicity plan. In many states, you don't have the option of remaining anonymous if you win the lottery. As soon as you claim the prize, the whole world will know your name. Journalist and TV reporters will come from far and wide and will all want to talk to you. The best approach is to develop a public relations strategy before you claim the prize. Decide what you want to share, when you want to share it and if you will be your own spokesperson or if you want to have someone else speak on your behalf.

6. Don't lose yourself. Lottery winners often complain that their lives are turned upside down after winning and that they are thrust into a new life. It's hard to keep things exactly the same when you get a check for millions of dollars, but at the same time, you don't want to lose the aspects of your life that you now cherish. Step outside the craziness of the situation for a moment and make a list of who and what you love most in your life. Money is best when you use it to improve your life, not necessarily change it.

So, what should you do if you win the lottery? Even before you claim the prize, these six steps will help you get control of your sudden money and put you on the right financial path to make the most of your winnings and your new life.

(Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose" and the national best-seller "The Six Day Financial Makeover.")

Chicago Tribune

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40 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by jamella724.
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helpmewin's avatar - dandy
u$a
United States
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February 22, 2011
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Posted: June 5, 2013, 9:09 am - IP Logged

What should you do if you win the lottery? Take it from someone who has developed a national reputation for working with sudden wealth recipients — or as a client recently remarked, a "lottery financial adviser": There are countless financial, tax and legal strategies that you can take to make the most of your sudden money — but not so fast! Winning the lottery is a unique sudden wealth event that requires several immediate decisions. Here are six things you should do before you claim your lottery prize:

1. Sign the ticket. You want to make sure you immediately sign the winning lottery ticket. Lottery tickets are "bearer" instruments. This means that whoever holds the ticket is the winner. I would also suggest you take a photo and video of yourself with the ticket. If something unforeseen happens, these steps can go a long way to prove you are the winner.

2. Take care of yourself. This step has nothing to do with your lottery prize and everything to do with you and your health. While everybody handles these things differently, it's not uncommon to experience anxiety, paranoia or even a strange out-of-body feeling. For some, these feelings are fleeting, but for others, they can persist and make it hard to sleep, function or make logical decisions. So, first and foremost, make sure you take care of yourself. Seek professional help if necessary.

3. Decide if you want a lump-sum or an annuity. With a big lottery win, you will often have the option of taking a lump sum payout or a pay structure over time. This will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Although a great majority of lottery winners opt to receive a lump sum payment, there are definitely some advantages (and disadvantages) in taking the payout over time. You'll want your accountant and financial adviser to review both options and discuss the pros and cons of each. The big advantage for taking the money over time is that it provides you with a "do over" card. We've all heard the stories of lottery winners who have lost it all in a few short years. By getting the money over time, even if things go badly the first year, you will have many more chances to get it right. It's definitely something to think about sooner rather than later, because in some states, while you may have 180 days from the drawing to claim the prize, you may only have 60 days if you want a lump-sum check. Also, the day you claim the prize, you will need to make your decision, so you'll want to get your team assembled so they can crunch the numbers for you.

4. Assemble your team. When you win a large lottery, you'll want to make sure you have a stellar team who can help you make the best decisions. You'll want an attorney — actually, you'll undoubtedly use many attorneys (e.g., business, tax, trusts and estate), but don't worry about finding everyone on day one. Find a good attorney to guide you through the initial steps and who can introduce you to others as needed. And at a minimum, you will also want a CPA and a certified financial planner who have experience guiding clients who have received sudden money.

5. Make a publicity plan. In many states, you don't have the option of remaining anonymous if you win the lottery. As soon as you claim the prize, the whole world will know your name. Journalist and TV reporters will come from far and wide and will all want to talk to you. The best approach is to develop a public relations strategy before you claim the prize. Decide what you want to share, when you want to share it and if you will be your own spokesperson or if you want to have someone else speak on your behalf.

6. Don't lose yourself. Lottery winners often complain that their lives are turned upside down after winning and that they are thrust into a new life. It's hard to keep things exactly the same when you get a check for millions of dollars, but at the same time, you don't want to lose the aspects of your life that you now cherish. Step outside the craziness of the situation for a moment and make a list of who and what you love most in your life. Money is best when you use it to improve your life, not necessarily change it.

So, what should you do if you win the lottery? Even before you claim the prize, these six steps will help you get control of your sudden money and put you on the right financial path to make the most of your winnings and your new life.

(Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose" and the national best-seller "The Six Day Financial Makeover.")

i like the 1st one = 1. Sign the ticket

the rest Thumbs Down

    NightStalker's avatar - IMG00073 20100720-1609_2.jpg
    Nothing Good Happens After Midnight
    East of Columbus, OH
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    Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:12 am - IP Logged

    They are all good ideas.  You should have a plan in place.  You might not need as many attorneys as he mentions, but good legal and financial advice will be needed.

    I might have added changing your phone number to the list to help keep unwanted people away, as well.

    Life's Too Short To Be Unhappy Cool


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      Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:31 am - IP Logged

      i like the 1st one = 1. Sign the ticket

      the rest Thumbs Down

      Thumbs Up I wont even sign the ticket, if I decide to give it away to charity.

        helpmewin's avatar - dandy
        u$a
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        Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:43 am - IP Logged

        Thumbs Up I wont even sign the ticket, if I decide to give it away to charity.

        so then you need to give the ticket to charity not the cash, i would just threw it in the red kettle at christmas time for the bell ringers

        why they need money anyway for new bells i suppose Noel


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          Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:46 am - IP Logged

          so then you need to give the ticket to charity not the cash, i would just threw it in the red kettle at christmas time for the bell ringers

          why they need money anyway for new bells i suppose Noel

          That is one good idea. but I could also choose one that I think is BETTER.

            ameriken's avatar - 33ojew2
            Denver, Co
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            Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:49 am - IP Logged

            Step 1: sign the ticket

            Step 2: understand you might get feelings of paranoia

            Step 3: run and hide

            Step 4: call your Dr for a supply of valium

            Step 5: now you're ready to deal with the rest of it

            Give someone a fish and feed them for a day. Teach them to use the internet and they won't bother you for weeks. 


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              Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:51 am - IP Logged

              Step 1: sign the ticket

              Step 2: understand you might get feelings of paranoia

              Step 3: run and hide

              Step 4: call your Dr for a supply of valium

              Step 5: now you're ready to deal with the rest of it

              That's so 70's.

                helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                u$a
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                Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:54 am - IP Logged

                That is one good idea. but I could also choose one that I think is BETTER.

                 What?

                  helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                  u$a
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                  Posted: June 5, 2013, 10:55 am - IP Logged

                  Step 1: sign the ticket

                  Step 2: understand you might get feelings of paranoia

                  Step 3: run and hide

                  Step 4: call your Dr for a supply of valium

                  Step 5: now you're ready to deal with the rest of it

                  how about a list of what Not to do might be better


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                    Posted: June 5, 2013, 11:02 am - IP Logged

                    how about a list of what Not to do might be better

                    Don't buy a liquor store so you can get a good price on liquor.

                      helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                      u$a
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                      Posted: June 5, 2013, 11:05 am - IP Logged

                      Don't buy a liquor store so you can get a good price on liquor.

                      Thumbs UpI gone write that down


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                        Posted: June 5, 2013, 11:57 am - IP Logged

                        Thumbs UpI gone write that down

                        Good idea, and don't buy a pot farm unless you have governmental approval.

                          RedStang's avatar - mustangstu zps4c591ef5.jpg
                          Dutchess , NY
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                          Posted: June 5, 2013, 12:30 pm - IP Logged

                          Claiming a ticket while having a out of body experience, would be a good way to hide your anonymity.

                            rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                            -Ridge Runner- Oracle of the Appalachians
                            Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
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                            Posted: June 5, 2013, 12:37 pm - IP Logged

                            I'll burn that bridge when I get there.