All players dream of winning the lottery. Yet, while it can most certainly be a dream come true, even financially savvy winners could benefit from some expert advice not only on how to best put their newfound wealth to use, but how to handle the paradigm shift that is life as a lottery winner.
Attorney Jason Kurland knows a whole lot about winning the lottery. In an interview with Vice, he explained his work with lottery winners and how his legal services protect their interests. In part 1 we looked at how Jason fell into this very specific field of law, as well as what you should do if you find yourself lucky enough to hold a winning lottery ticket. Here, Jason gives a full and frank disclosure about the virtues of putting your winnings in a trust, the perils of social media and what makes some lottery winners go broke…
Do lottery tickets expire?
Usually, yes. Depending on the province in which you’re playing, you will likely have between 6 and 12 months to notify the relevant lottery commission. It’s recommended that you get all of your affairs in order and have a good idea of what you’re doing with your money before notifying them.
What is the benefit of putting your win into an entity or trust?
Putting your money in a trust preserves your anonymity and limits your public exposure, as the trust rather than the individual is the nominated winner. Make no mistake, if you win the lottery, people are going to look for you. They’ll pursue you looking for handouts, investment opportunities or looking for charitable contributions.
So you should avoid, say, announcing a win on social media?
Oh, absolutely! In fact, you should delete your Facebook account altogether. If your name is announced as a lottery winner, people will trawl through social media trying to find you.
What about people who go on local news with their big wins? Does doing that end their lives as they know them?
Everyone’s different. If clients want to be celebrities or go on reality TV shows, I can help with that and make sure that they do it the right way. But if they want to retain their anonymity, I wouldn’t recommend going on television. There was a couple from Tennessee who went on the Today Show before they’d even claimed their ticket. This strikes me as tremendously reckless.
Do people often change their minds about what they want to do with their winnings?
Most people initially want to pay off their debts, which is very sensible. But yes, upon talking with a financial advisor, many realise that what they initially thought they wanted isn’t the same as what they decide they really want.
It’s easy to forget that psychologically, a lottery win is a huge paradigm shift. It effectively ends your life as you knew it. And that takes some serious adjustment!
Quite often we hear about lottery winners going broke. Why is this?
Lottery winners are easy prey for investment opportunities that end up becoming money pits. Some may know someone with a supposedly red hot real estate tip that costs them a lot of money without the return they were expecting. Others invest it in their own business and end up underestimating just how much they’ll spend. People often lose money to scams in a similar way. That’s why I advise my clients to tell people who approach them with investment opportunities that they have to go through me. I don’t mind looking like the bad guy to protect my clients!
Hopefully, this two part article illustrates to players the importance of legal advice in the event of a win.