Got lottery fever!
Today and tomorrow as players in 45 states plus Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands pick their numbers — and dream about their chances of winning — few know how to protect themselves if they hit the jackpot.
Resources are available for financial professionals Lottery aspirants.
Here are seven tips gleaned from lottery boards, insurance companies, private wealth management firms and others on what lottery winners can do to keep their personal lives and finances safe and secure.
1. Beware of scams
Lottery players should be wary of scams whether they win the jackpot or not.
Some scammers misidentify themselves as lottery employees in an attempt to steal money from unsuspecting people. Mega millions warns.
“No representative of Mega Millions will ever call, text or e-mail anyone about winning a prize,” the multi-jurisdictional lottery board’s website states.
Lottery scammers “are persistent,” use real or made-up company names and offer a “free play” or “prize” to try to appear legitimate, warns Mega Millions.
Scammers may also ask for personal information or payments that they claim are for “taxes” or “fees.”
Be suspicious if a contact asks to keep correspondence confidential or asks for banking information.
According to Mega Millions, helpful tips include being suspicious of any lottery winnings from a game you’ve never played, as well as being suspicious of emails with “letters or poor grammar.”
The Lottery Board warns that people should be suspicious if a contact asks to keep correspondence confidential or asks for banking information.
“No real lottery winner is asked to put their own money into collecting a prize they’ve already won,” Mega Millions notes.
2. Get professional advice
If lottery winners win a big prize, get a team of financial experts together, Mega Millions advises.
The Lottery Board recommends that winners check resources, Financial planning tools and individual professionals from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a national professional organization of more than 428,000 CPAs.
Attorneys and financial advisors may also be considered, according to State Farm Insurance.
3. Keep that ticket safe!
Lottery winners must make “multiple copies” of their winning ticket, according to State Farm. These copies can be shown to lawyers or accountants, while the original ticket is stored in a personal safe or bank deposit box.
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State Farm cautions lottery winners to read each game’s rules and agreements before signing their winning ticket.
“In some cases, signing your ticket can prevent you from creating a blind trust later,” says the insurance company’s “What to do if you win the lottery” article.
A financial advisor in the New York City area recommends keeping the ticket in a bank safe deposit box until you have consulted with your legal and financial advisors.
Also, understand the rules in your particular state about whether or not you can remain anonymous. “It’s very important,” he said.
4. Protect your privacy
State Farm advises lottery winners to keep their winnings private before receiving a ticket.
Winners must also be prepared to change their contact information. Because most lotteries share names or require participation in interviews or press conferences for transparency reasons.
“Change your phone number and set up a new PO Box early to avoid being inundated with requests,” State Farm wrote.
The insurance company says some winners can set up a blind trust through their attorney so that winnings can be received anonymously.
5. Make a plan for money
While forming a team of financial professionals is an important step for many lottery winners, State Farm says winners should make a general list or plan of what they want to do with their money.
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“Write down your personal, financial, lifestyle, family and charitable goals and refer back to that plan to help keep things on track in the long run,” says the insurance company.
6. Put off making big decisions
Winning a few million dollars can make or tempt any person to make a big purchase Lifestyle change – but private wealth managers at Cresset Capital advise against it.
“You should consider how your employment contributes to your sense of self and your mental well-being,” Cresset Capital says in its “Dos (and Don’ts) If You Win the Lottery.”
Instead of opting for early retirement or making some other dramatic move, a Chicago-based financial planning firm might want to consider participating in lottery winners.–Part-time jobs or participation in higher education, volunteer work, or passion-filled hobbies.
Cressett Capital also cautions lottery winners against becoming an “ATM Family and friends“To avoid jeopardizing financial plans at the outset.
“This isn’t to say you should keep all the money for yourself, but take the time to think about how and when you want to give so you don’t resent or be used for your wealth,” the organization wrote.
7. Question whether you should take a lump sum
Some winners are better off taking the entire amount of the lottery, while others may benefit from an annuity payment (a series of equal payments spread over a period of time).
Cressett Capital advises winners to seek input from a financial advisor to determine which option is best.
“Compare after-tax returns, investment returns, your life expectancy, etc.,” writes Cresset Capital. “Careful planning and consideration will lead to a higher overall value of your success.”
A New York-based financial advisor contacted by Fox News Digital said the decision on how to take winnings can vary depending on your age, your health, your family situation and more.
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All these factors influence the best decision to be taken in this regard.
And another bonus tip
If a lottery winner or someone close to a lottery winner has a gambling addiction, Mega Millions says getting help from the gambling addiction community is a crucial step.
Two organizations recommended by the Lottery Board are the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous.
The National Council on Problem Gambling has affiliate locations in 34 states, while Gamblers Anonymous has hotlines in every state, along with in-person and virtual meetings.