Step 1 – Sign the back of the lottery ticket, because whoever turns in the winning lottery ticket is declared the winner. Therefore, by signing the back you secure yourself as the owner of the ticket. However, be sure to leave room above your signature in case the name of a Trust or other legal entity may be inserted. Once you have signed the back of the ticket, make a copy of it and put the original in a safe location such as a fire safe or safety deposit box until it is time for you to turn in same to the Lottery officials.
Step 2 – Check the deadline for turning in the winning lottery ticket so that it does not expire. This can be anywhere from six months to one year, depending on the lottery you won.
Step 3 – Keep your win private for as long as possible. Once word gets out of your win, every long lost relative, friend and scammers will be knocking on your door. In addition, shut down all of your social media to provide more privacy. Don’t go on TV announcing your win.
Step 4 – Hire an attorney, financial planner and accountant. This is definitely one of the most important steps you will take to secure the future of your financial gain. It is important to take this step before you turn in your winning ticket, as you will be deciding if you want to set up a Trust or other legal entity to receive the funds. This may provide some anonymity and limit your exposure, as the winner will be the name of a Trust or other legal entity, not the name of the individual. You will also be discussing with these professionals what you wish to do with your lottery winnings (i.e. purchases, investments, etc.) so that your goals can be achieved through proper planning.
Step 5 – Be careful not to “give” too much money away to your friends and relatives, as this is how many lottery winners become broke. In addition, large gifts can make you the subject of gift taxes. Therefore, always consult with your accountant before giving money away to non-charitable organizations. Be careful with any “investment” ideas being presented to you. Have them carefully presented and reviewed by your qualified professionals so that you do not become part of a scam and lose a substantial amount of your winnings.