Lottery fever is coming!
As players pick their numbers today and tomorrow in the 45 states as well as Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands — and dream about their chances of winning — few really know how they’ll protect themselves if they win the jackpot.
Financial experts have resources available for lottery hope.
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Here are seven pieces of advice gathered from lottery commissions, insurance companies, private wealth managers and others about what lottery winners need to do to keep their personal lives and money safe.
Lottery players need to beware of scams, whether they hit the jackpot or not.
Some scammers mistakenly identify themselves as lottery employees trying to steal money from unsuspecting people, millionaire warn.
“Mega Millions representatives do not call, text or email anyone to tell anyone they have won,” the Multi-Jurisdictional Lottery Commission’s website says.
Mega Millions warns that lottery scammers are “hardened”, use real or fictitious company names, and offer “free games” or “prizes” in an attempt to appear legitimate.
Scammers can also ask for personal information or payments they claim to be used for “taxes” or “fees.”
Helpful tips include being skeptical of any lottery winnings in games you’ve never played, and being suspicious of emails with “spelling or grammatical errors,” according to Mega Millions.
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The Lottery Commission also warned people to be suspicious if a contact asks for communications to be kept private or asks for banking information.
“There is no real lottery that tells the winners to take out their own money to claim their winnings,” Mega Millions points out.
Mega Millions suggested that if lottery winners hit the jackpot, they should assemble a team of financial experts.
Lottery Commission advises winners to investigate resources, financial planning tool and individual experts from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a national professional organization of more than 428,000 certified public accountants.
Lawyers and financial advisors may also be worth considering, according to State Farm Insurance.
According to State Farm, lottery winners should make “several” winning tickets. These copies can be presented to a lawyer or accountant while the original tickets remain in a personal safe or bank safe.
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State Farm also warned that lottery winners should read the rules and contracts of each game before signing a winning ticket.
“In some cases, signing your ticket may prevent you from building blind trust later,” states 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 until you have completed your consultation with legal and financial advisors.
Also, he says to know your state’s rules about whether you can remain anonymous. “It’s very important,” he said.
State Farm recommends that lottery winners be kept secret until they turn in their tickets.
Winners should also be prepared to change their contact information. This is because many lotteries share names or require interviews or press conferences for transparency reasons.
“Be sure to change your phone number and set up a new PO Box ahead of time to avoid being inundated with requests,” State Farm wrote.
Insurance companies point out that some winners may be able to form a blind trust through their lawyers, which allows them to receive their prizes anonymously.
While assembling a team of financial experts is an important step for most lottery winners, State Farm says winners should make a general list or plan what they want to do with their money.
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“Write down your personal, financial, lifestyle, family and charitable goals and then go back to that plan to help keep things on the right track in the long term,” the insurance company says.
Winning a few million dollars could tempt anyone to make a big purchase or lifestyle changes — but Cresset Capital’s private wealth management firm doesn’t recommend it.
“You need to think about how your work contributes to your self-awareness and mental health,” Cresset Capital says in its “What to do (and what not to do) if you win the lottery” article.
The Chicago-based financial planning firm said lottery winners may want to consider participating rather than opting for early retirement or some other big move–Work part-time or pursue higher education, volunteer work or a passionate hobby.
Cresset Capital also warns lottery winners not to ‘become friends and relatives“To avoid jeopardizing financial plans early on.
“This is not to say that you should keep all your money for yourself, but to take the time to consider how and when you want to give so you don’t become resentful or end up being used for your wealth,” the company wrote. “
Some winners may receive a lump sum payment for the lottery, while others may benefit from receiving annuity payments (a series of equal payments that break down over a period of time).
Cresset Capital recommends that winners seek the advice of a financial advisor to determine the option that is best for them.
“Compare after-tax returns, investment returns, your life expectancy, and more,” Cresset Capital wrote. “Careful planning and consideration can earn you a higher overall value.”
By the way, decisions about how to get your bonus can change based on your age, health, family status and more, says a New York financial advisor with Fox News Digital Consulting.
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All of these things can influence the best decision to make in this regard.
If the lottery winner or someone close to the winner has a gambling addiction, Mega Millions said getting help from a gambling addiction association could be a key step.
Two organizations recommended by the Lottery Commission are the National Problem Gambling Commission and Gamblers Anonymous.
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The National Council on Problem Gambling has branches in 34 states, while Anonymous Gamblers has a hotline and in-person and virtual meetings in each state.