What To Do If You Win The Lottery

  1. Double and triple check the winning numbers.
  2. DO NOT TELL ANYONE other than your spouse. Not your mom, not your dad, not your kids, not your boyfriend/girlfriend, not your best friend, NO ONE…
  3. Sign the back of the winning lottery ticket. A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument so that whoever signs the ticket and presents it with a photo ID will claim the prize.
  4. Take photos & videos of the front and back of the winning lottery ticket.
  5. Make 20 color photocopies of the front and back of the winning lottery ticket.
  6. Find the closest branch of a large, national bank (Wells Fargo, Chase, etc.) and rent a safe deposit box. Put the winning lottery ticket in the safe deposit box.
  7. Hire an estate attorney from one of the top 20 large, national estate planning legal firms. Make sure that one of the actual partners is assigned to you, don’t let them pawn off junior partners or associates on you. Do NOT use your current attorney, do NOT use an attorney recommended by family or friends. Do NOT use any attorney that has any connection to you, family or friends. You can use www.martindale.com to find the names of these attorneys.
  8. Hire an accountant and tax advisor from one of the top 20 large, national accounting firms.
  9. Immediately before claiming the prize, pull your children out of school.  After claiming the prize, they will become a target, you’ll want to put them into a well-regarded & secure private school or hire a full-time tutor to homeschool them.
  10. Arrange to claim the prize, in states that allow for it- have the attorney set up a trust and claim it for you in the name of the trust to protect your privacy.
  11. Only one person should collect the winnings. You want to minimize the chance that you are going to be recognized. If there is more than one person in the photo, then there is double the chance that one of you might get recognized. Try to be as anonymous as possible. Ask that the novelty check and subsequent media release name you without using your full name. So if you are John Quincy Smith, ask to be identified as “J.Q. Smith.” This doesn’t work as well if you have an uncommon family name, but in some cases it can help anonymize you a bit. If you’re likely to be photographed, then now’s the time to play dress up. Wear a hat. Wear sunglasses if you can. Men, grow some facial hair. You are going to get your 15 minutes of fame, whether you like it or not, so my advice is to look as unidentifiable as possible when you go to get your prize. Use misdirection when answering questions. For example, tell them that we are moving to Texas, etc.
  12. Take the lump sum, ALWAYS
  13. Put a safety net in place. Many large lottery winners end up nearly bankrupt because they could not control their spending and made poor financial decisions. Prevent that from happening by setting up a trust for yourself now. Putting $10 million into a trust that has a conservative return will give you around $500,000 per year in income for life without touching the principle.
  14. Setup trust funds for your children (these could provide funds for buying a home, paying for a wedding, covering living expenses, etc.)
  15. Decide how much you plan to give to family and friends.
  16. Dump the remainder of your winnings into a S&P 500 index fund. Find something with low fees. You are going to be urged to retain financial advisors who charge “nominal fees.” Don’t. Unless we have a downturn, the likes of which we have never seen, should return around 7.00% or so over the next 10 years.