How to protect your privacy if you win Mega Millions or Powerball
Mark Ralston | Agence France-Presse | Getty Images
There is a chance that at least two people will finish 2020 richer than most of us.
With no ticket matching all six numbers drawn on Tuesday at Mega Millions, the grand prize jumped to $ 401 million for the Friday night draw. The Powerball jackpot isn’t far off, at $ 363 million for Wednesday night’s draw.
If you are lucky enough to be the next big winner, experts say part of protecting your windfall winnings is protecting your identity if you can.
Four hundred million dollars will attract a lot of [attention]Said attorney Kurt Panawaysis, founder of Banawas Le Group in Indiana, Florida, and an expert in helping lottery winners.
Keeping your winnings quiet helps protect you from strangers and scammers who want to take part in the prize.
However, states don’t always facilitate privacy: only a handful allow winners to remain completely anonymous. In other cases, you may be able to claim the prize through a trust, limited liability company, or limited liability company that you don’t have your name on – yet you need to plan for it.
Here are tips for big lottery winners to try to preserve their privacy.
Handling your ticket
The usual advice is to sign on the back of your ticket. However, if you are in a state that allows a trust or LLC to claim the prize, you may want to delay with this signature if privacy is important to you.
“Obviously, you want to protect the ticket, but whatever name is on the back of the ticket, what is identified as the beneficiary,” Panaws said. “The back of the ticket is important for privacy purposes.”
In most states, he said, if you use an LLC or trust to claim funds, you can go around publicly revealing your name.
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Banusas said it has also set up trust funds from which the recipients are called so-called sub-trusts rather than winners. This adds an extra layer of privacy protection.
While you may be eager to share your exciting news, experts say the fewer people they know, the better.
Banaws said: “Make a small circle of people who know or do not tell anyone.”
In addition, if you are claiming to win alongside, for example, other family members – for example, via a trust or LLC as a joint prize – everyone involved must sign nondisclosure agreements.
In addition to selecting experienced professionals to help navigate windfall wins, it may also be wise to avoid professionals in your home country if you are concerned about news of your win being leaked.
“Anyone in this office can tell others, ‘Oh, this is the lottery winner,’” Panaws said, adding that he relied on a large investment and credit company with a proven track record of serving wealthy families.
“When I open accounts with them, I know the information will not be disclosed,” Panaws said.
Plan to escape
After claiming your prize, it might be a good idea to walk past town.
“We make sure the winners have a plan to go somewhere for a week or so after the claim,” Panaws said. “If people find out you won, they might show up in your house.”
He said it’s also worth changing your cell phone number. If you have a landline, it needs to be changed as well.
You may also want to close your social media accounts if you are unable to remain anonymous.
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