Won the NY Lottery? Do These 5 Things First
So. You won the lottery. Good for you! Consider this your lottery winning welcome wagon! Deborah L. Jacobs wrote an informative piece for Forbes titled 10 Things to do When You Win the Lottery. Her first message is cryptic, but important. "The first precautionary step you should take between now and the drawing is to sign the back of the ticket, says Carolyn Hapeman, a spokeswoman for The New York Lottery. A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, she explains, meaning that whoever signs the ticket and presents a photo ID can claim the prize. So if you haven't signed the ticket and it blows out of your hand while you are waiting for a bus, or if you show it to a buddy in a bar and accidentally leave it on the counter, you've lost the loot."
Do These 5 Things First When You Win the Lottery
Remain anonymous if your state rules permit it.
"Rules on winner publicity vary by state. In New York, for example, winners' names are a public record." Jacobs suggests that if you're in a state that allows anonymity through trusts or LLC formation, take that route.
See a tax pro before you cash the ticket.
Jacobs points out that "you have the choice between taking the prize money all at once or having it paid out in 30 installments over 29 years in the form of an annuity. With a lump sum payment, you must immediately pay tax on the entire amount." She points out that there are pros and cons to each choice, which is why consulting a tax pro BEFORE you cash your ticket can help you choose the best option for you.
Avoid sudden lifestyle changes.
This one is a biggie. If you already have your Bugatti picked out, that's good-except-- slow your roll. Jacobs says that "For the first six months after you win the lottery, don't do anything drastic, like quitting your job, buying a home in Europe, trading up for a luxury car or building a collection of Birkin handbags. Meanwhile, set aside a fixed amount for splurges—it's only natural to want to celebrate your windfall."
Pay off all your debts.
According to Jacobs article, The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received, "There is no better investment than paying off debts."
Assemble a team of legal and financial advisers.
Here's another biggie. Rather than opt in at a "one stop shop" firm, "Handpick your own lawyer, accountant and investment advisor, and require them to work together. Carefully vet each advisor before discussing your situation. Check broker records at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. For attorneys and insurance agents, see whether there have been any complaints filed with state disciplinary authorities. If you live in a small community and don't want lawyers there to know your business, seek out a professional in the nearest large city."
So now you know. Armed with good information, you are now ready to claim your lottery winnings!
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