[author: Michele Bowman]
It’s a dream come true for at least two Americans: on Nov. 29, lottery officials announced that two tickets – one in Arizona and one in Missouri – matched the winning numbers drawn in the Nov. 28 massive Powerball lottery, which is worth almost $580 million.
The Missouri winning ticket-holders will be revealed on Nov. 30. While we wait for the lucky Arizona winners to come forward (and continue to read all the news stories interviewing ticket purchasers about what they would do if they won the lottery), ponder for a moment the real-world issues involved in suddenly coming into huge and unexpected wealth.
For All the World to See
The Powerball lottery jackpot on Nov. 28 was the second-largest in history, driven higher and higher by 16 consecutive past drawings without winners.
The biggest jackpot occurred just this last March in a Mega Millions lottery worth $656 million, according to the New York Times. The three winners – in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas – have yet to be identified, according to ABC News, but three people in Maryland who shared the winning ticket there did claim their prize, while remaining anonymous.
Both Powerball and Mega Millions are national lottery systems that include a number of states. In a handful of states, winners can remain anonymous: Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
All other participating states require the state to announce the winners once they come forward to cash in.
Stay Quiet – If You Can
“Winning the lottery is a life-changing experience,” observe lawyers at Solomon & Herrera, a law firm with offices in Florida and New York that specializes in serving lottery winners. “While you should be excited, you will soon discover that there are a number of financial and legal concerns that come with winning the lottery.”
The three winners in Maryland were able to remain anonymous – notice in the picture that their identities are protected – and experts say that is the one of the first things to consider, should you ever win such a thing.
Winners in the Maryland Mega Millions lottery preserved their anonymity by hiding from cameras when they claimed their prize. Photo credit: Maryland State Lottery, via Philly.com
After signing and protecting that winning ticket with your life, remain anonymous if you can because you will “suddenly and permanently become the focus of unwanted attention,” as every other identified lottery winner has, says the Atlanta paper. Everyone from your long-lost cousin to your favorite church or charity will come asking for alms, so be ready. The Journal-Constitution’s advice? “Shut up.”
Lawyers Can Help Set up a Trust
One way to give yourself the time needed to make the necessarily plans for your new wealth is to hire a lawyer and a financial planner, both of whom can act as a buffer to the suffering multitudes who will knock at your door.
Some of the issues lawyers can help with include tax issues and estate planning. Other things you may consider include purchasing real estate and setting up corporations, or other legal entities such as trusts.
For instance, Louise White, a Rhode Island woman who in March won the third largest Powerball jackpot of $336 million, used a trust “to provide ‘distance’ to her winnings and ‘avoid complications,’” ABC News quoted her lawyers and financial planner as saying.
ABC quoted Danielle Mayoras, an estate planning attorney who said White’s trust would help her to avoid people “coming out of the woodwork to get money from her.”
If you need to speak to a lawyer about setting up a trust to handle your lottery winnings, contact one on Lawyers.com.