Wowzers, that was close! Remember how you nearly stopped in for a Grape Fanta and a winning $1.537 billion lottery ticket at that convenience store in South Carolina. (Isn’t it always a convenience store?) That would have been a disaster!
Do you think I’m joking? Just imagine the utter chaos that your life would have become if you won the lottery before reading Gildshire’s checklist of winners’ essentials. The mind reels.
We’ve all dreamed of winning the big one, but few people can conceive of winning one this size. It will take from now until lunch tomorrow just to count the zeroes. A lucky someone won it, and someday someone will win it again. If it is you, here is what you need to do next.
Before Claiming Your Money.
You will want to secure the ticket in a safety deposit box. But first, make several copies, and show one to your attorney. Oh, you say you don’t have an attorney. Trust us when we tell you that you are going to be lawyered up for the rest of your life.
Take a day or two for deep cleansing breaths and to get your heart rate under control. Depending on which state sold you the winning lottery ticket, you have anywhere from 15-60 days to stake your claim. Use this time to gather your financial advisory team.
Stay quiet. There will come a time for an “I WON” weekend with friends, but not yet. Save that until after you have secured the money. In some states, you will be required to make public appearances on behalf of their lottery. If that is the case, change your personal contact numbers immediately. Also, get a P.O. box if you don’t already have one and a new one if you do. Otherwise, your home will be overrun with requests. The best thing for you is if you won in a state that will allow you to remain anonymous.
Form a financial Dream Team that consists of an attorney, an accountant, and a financial advisor that has at least some experience with windfalls. They will be able to help you over the speed bumps and answer the questions that pop up in the middle of the night.
Get away with just yourself and some writing implements. Make a list of your goals under the categories of personal, family, lifestyle, and charity. When you get back home, put your goal sheet somewhere easy to find. That is your financial and life goal playbook to which you’ll return many times.
Decide between lump sum and annuity payments. You will get advice both ways on this, but Gildshire believes the annuity is your best route going forward. Chances are, you will make a mistake or two in the first year. An annuity allows you to start fresh each year.
We already established that you will become well-acquainted with an attorney, but his/hers isn’t the only legal advice you will require. You’ll also need an estate lawyer to help with your last will and testament. This is crucial! The most stable families fall apart when a large inheritance comes along, and who gets what isn’t clearly spelled out.
After Claiming Your Money.
Find several parking garages for it, because your friendly neighborhood banker is the one person who wants you showing up with a check for a billion dollars. The FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000, which is a small percentage of what you have going on.
Plan your first steps. You know they are coming for you. When the word gets out, friends, near-friends, acquaintances, near total strangers and charities will come a’calling. As troublesome as they can be, they are nothing compared to your relatives! Let your Dream Team help with fair and equitable disbursements, with the help of that list you made. Consider forming your own charity foundation. It isn’t as complicated to do as you may think, and the psychological benefits to you are significant. Remember that contentment comes from giving much of our wealth away.
Continue working. Maybe you don’t wish to remain in the job you have today. If that’s the case, consider some alternative ways to stay productive. What is your passion, and could it become a part-time job? (“World of Warcraft” isn’t a job.) Perhaps, you could consider a brand new part-time career. Or go back to college, studying the major you wish you had completed.
Most of all, stay healthy. Newfound wealth and ultimate happiness aren’t as closely tied as you think. They are barely related unless you take care of yourself. Eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Get some fiber and plenty of sleep. Take a walk. Find a counselor you can trust if your situation creates emotional strain.
Now you are ready to buy that lottery ticket. Good luck, both before, and after, you win.