You Won the Lottery? What's Next?

What To Do After Winning The LotteryBy Shirley HillYes, we all know that it's a pipedream for most but then there are that small percentage that do win. Where do you go from there?

First on the agenda would be to jump, scream, hug the person closest to you and then call your Mother. Now it's time to get serious.

Although you are pretty anxious to get a hold of "your" money, stop! A lot of winners have waited from a few days to two weeks because they are getting some very important legal advice. Before you rush off and end up on the list of sudden millionaires who are left penniless, follow some vital steps in securing your newfound wealth.

  • Keep your ticket safe. People have kept it in strange places such as sock drawers, under their pillows and the best place, a safe deposit box.
  • You haven't won until you collect the money. Instead of rushing right out and quitting that job, take a little vacation or sick leave time without spilling the beans. The fewer people that know that you're a future millionaire, the better!
  • Find yourself some people that you can trust. This means accountant, financial advisor and definitely a lawyer! Most of us do not know these type of professionals so talk to others that you know and trust that do use these kinds of people on a daily basis. If even your friends and family don't know these type of people, find yourself a large law firm and a major brokerage house. Ask them what they can do for you. But make certain the firm you chose has been referred by someone who is already using them. These people are very important because they are a good way to stop you from going wild with your new found riches by showing you ways to manage your millions, instruct you how to turn your money into more money via investments and basically keeping the money requests from family and friends down to a minimum.
  • Arrange a special account at the bank. What? You thought you could just deposit millions of dollars into your plain Jane checking account? Wire transfer into a specialized account usually completes lottery winnings. So get one before you collect!
  • Change your phone number! Actually this should have been at the top of the list. Once word gets out (and it will), everyone will want to imitate the old phone commercial. Reach out and touch YOU! So get an unlisted number.
  • Once your ticket is turned in, the world will know who you are. The lottery commission, by public information act, is required to release your name and hometown. Then there is the conference with all the media. Afterwards, it might be the best thing to go into hiding before spending a dime. Take a small vacation where nobody knows where you're going. Many winners go into seclusion before and after claiming their millions to avoid the onslaught of well wishers and 'new' relatives that they acquire.
  • Learn how to say one simple word, "NO." More lottery winners will testify that not being able to say no to family, friends and even those 'Hard-luck Charlie's', strangers who plead their case with their hard luck stories, has been the reason for losing their millions quickly. Before you collect, come up with a plan on how to deal with this without being disowned by everyone you know.

Some winners have told family that they will get a few thousand on a yearly basis and that is it. Others have given immediate family members a lump sum with the warning that they'll be no more handouts. However, you decide to handle it, have a plan before you collect. It will save a lot of emotional heartache down the road.

  • Last but certainly not least, remember the small things. Like taxes! Again, this is when your trusted financial team can step up to the plate. Estate taxes, long-term planning, and trust funds for the kids are all necessary evils that will have to be addressed if you plan on keeping all those millions.

And you thought it was going to be easy? But, if you follow these rules, you might be a millionaire when everyone else is back working 9-5 and scratching their heads asking that proverbial question, "What went wrong?" Nothing that you want is ever without hard work, not even Easy Street.

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