"Here's something to think about: How come you never see a headline like 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?" ~ Jay Leno
When the Powerball drawing amount went beyond $1.3 billion, several friends assured me they would gladly win and accept "the risk of ruining their lives."
Since one person - or more - will beat the daunting odds of a .00000000342 percent chance of winning, here are some tips to help approach "the burden of winning."
1. Sign and secure your ticket.
Immediately sign and print your name on the back of your ticket. Make front-and-back copies. Secure the ticket in a bank safety deposit box.
2. Don't tell anyone just yet.
USA Today reported that 46 percent of surveyed persons would first tell their spouse about a big Powerball win. 10 percent said they would first tell their lawyer.
Experts advise that the WORST thing a big winner can do is tell everybody. A safer and better first step is to "lawyer up" and "go submarine," as in "run silent, run deep."
3. Set up a confidential meeting with a good team - a lawyer, an accountant, and a financial advisor.
Tell nobody in their offices, however, why you are meeting. Your team makes recommendations - but YOU decide.
4. Consider creating an LLC or a trust to maintain anonymity and manage the winnings.
Some states require the winner's name to be disclosed. In Tennessee and several states, however, an LLC or trust can be created to own the ticket and to manage the proceeds.
5. To minimize "life ruining" for you and your loved ones, consider the 30-year annuity payout instead of the lump sum.
A lottery annuity prize is an inheritable asset. At the winner's death, any remaining annuity payments go to the estate, NOT to "the state"! With a prize of over $1.3 billion, receiving $44,000 a day, after taxes, for 30 years will offer 'certain opportunities for challenge and service.'
James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. Please call (615) 452-9200 to suggest topics or questions for future columns.