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Posted - Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Revised - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - 10:45 PM -
Below is one of the best stories that I have ever read regarding
what to do should you win the lottery. There is, however, one statement
that I strongly disagree with and I've made a notation in the story.
Tonights (3/6/07) Mega Millions drawing is advertised at $370 Million.
The Mega Millions group is currently estimating sales for tonight to
be $176.8 million. What's important for you to know is that they will NOT sell
every possible combination - in fact - the total coverage will only be around 64%
of the 175.7 million total combinations. This is because there will be many duplicate
tickets sold - both Quick Picks and self picked tickets. While I sincerely hope there
are winners, don't be surprised if there are none. The Mega Million states are praying
that there are no winners so they can entice Friday nights sales. Sad but true!
You've won the lottery - now what?
Ohio - News-Herald - By: Jenny May
3/2/07 - Tonight's Mega Millions drawing is worth $267 million - if you are lucky enough to beat the odds, you might need a little advice It's the moment you never really thought would come. You glance from the television screen to your Mega Millions lottery ticket, realizing that the numbers are identical. In a matter of seconds, you're a millionaire.
Your first thought might be to call a family member or friend to share the unbelievable news. Wrong move, says Tony Pochiro, a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards and Sons in Mentor.
"When people win the lottery, they need to contact three people immediately - their financial adviser, their attorney and their (certified public accountant)," Pochiro said. "Until you contact those three people, don't tell anyone."
With no jackpot winner in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing, Americans are lining up to buy more tickets, taking their chances at winning an estimated $267 million in today's drawing. The jackpot has been growing since Jan. 9, when Mega Millions had its most recent jackpot winner. The jackpot has now rolled 14 times without a winner. The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately 1 in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40.
If you're lucky enough to beat those odds, it's important to take steps to protect yourself. Pochiro said lottery winners often make the mistake of broadcasting their good news to family and friends, leaving them open to scams and people begging for money.
"What you need to do is get your financial adviser, attorney and CPA together and decide how to take the funds, minimize the tax burden and protect against lawsuits," Pochiro said. "Once you win, people come out of the woodwork, saying you owe them money or begging for money."
Some clever criminals will even go as far as to make up phony charities and then keep your donation for themselves.
"People will prey on your emotions," Pochiro said.
In the excitement of winning, people are often so caught up in visions of fancy cars, large homes and expensive gifts that they forget to make plans to ensure the money lasts.
"I know of two people from Lake County who won about $2 million and blew it all in about five years," Pochiro said.
"People want to spend the money immediately and buy things for close family members, but a couple houses, trips and cars, and the money's gone. If it were my client, I would say, 'Here, take 10 percent and go nuts. The other 90 percent, let's lock up - and don't spend the principal."
Buying lottery tickets as a group can cause another set of problems. Members of the group might disagree with how the ticket buyer stated the group would like to receive the money, Pochiro said. It can be issued in one lump sum or in annual payments over 26 years.
"People have to remember that the person who buys the ticket is basically speaking for the whole group," Pochiro said.
Arguments over exactly who was in on the drawing might also ensue and even trigger lawsuits. "That's where having an attorney is helpful," Pochiro said.
Attorney Susan Priest Richlak, who has a practice in Mentor, advises that groups that buy lottery tickets draw up a contract stating the terms upon winning. The contract should state how the money will be accepted and include a rule that only those who have actually contributed money be entitled to the winnings.
"Groups could draw up an informal contract on their own - but to make sure that it's legally binding, it's best to have it drafted or reviewed by an attorney," Richlak said.
Richlak said lottery winners are legally entitled to keep their identities private, making them less vulnerable to identity theft and other scams.
"The attorney can take appropriate actions to keep their identity private," Richlak said. "A friend of my sister's who won the lottery also used her attorney's address for the purpose of collecting mail. The attorney was able to filter out all the kooky requests."
An accountant can help you plan where your money will end up in the future and avoid family disputes, said CPA Shawn Neece, a partner of Neece and Malec accounting firm in Chardon.
"A lottery winner has all the planning needs that wealthy persons have, including estate tax minimization, income tax planning, gift planning and a need for accounting and tax advice for new businesses, property or other investments," Neece said.
"For most persons, this planning occurs over a relatively long period of time, as a person's financial situation dictates. The challenge for a lottery winner is the immediacy of planning decisions. CPAs provide effective guidance and direction to sort through those decisions that need to be made quickly."
If you find yourself holding a winning ticket, you have 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim your prize, said Mardele Cohen, deputy director of communications for the Ohio Lottery Commission.
"The first step is to go into a retailer and get the ticket validated," Cohen said. "You will get a slip of paper that says 'winner's ticket.'"
(Comment from You do not have to take your ticket to a retailer, in fact, I'd strongly advise against doing this. There are several reasons ... 1) You are trying to keep a secret - you don't want anyone to know who you are, 2) clerks have been known to steal winning tickets, 3) terminals err in reading tickets and it could say that you did not win. So, do NOT take this advice.)
You can then head to one of the Lottery Commission's nine branches or Cleveland headquarters to claim your prize. The Ohio Lottery Commission advises winners to meet with a planner before claiming their prize.
"You might want to take some time to think about what's just happened," Cohen said. "It can be a lot to absorb. What we would like to see people do is talk to a tax specialist and estate planner. If you aren't sure who to go to, I always suggest just walking into your bank and informing the manager. He or she can lead you in the right direction."
While some people claim their prize immediately following a drawing, Cohen said most winners wait about two weeks.
"I think winners are getting more and more sophisticated and taking time to talk to professionals who can help," she said. "That's good, because once you fill out the claim form, things will happen pretty fast."
What would your life be like if you won hundreds of millions
Do you have any idea how winning hundreds of millions of dollars
Is this kind of money worth not being able to leave home
Are you ready to worry about the well being of your children?
Are you ready to worry about the well being of your close relatives?
Are you ready to have no friends because everyone would begrudge your winning?
Are you ready to take multiple calls per day from people who have deals?
Are you ready for the press to follow and report your every move?
Are you ready to move? Find new schools, churches, friends, places to shop and eat?
Are you ready for your ex-wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, friends
Do you want to live the rest of your life looking over your shoulder?
Well, believe it or not, this is the kind of life many, many lottery
PS - Wonder where I got my information?
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