You’ve done it! You hit the jackpot. You won the lottery and are an instant millionaire. Or maybe you hit it big with an invention, got a substantial inheritance, sold a business or got a divorce settlement.
Regardless, you might want to think about how you deal with this newfound wealth.
It is amazing that when lottery winners are interviewed, more than 25 percent say they plan to keep working.
It is time to create a team of advisers. A tax-accountant, an investment professional and probably an attorney should be on your team. You will have to make some important decisions before receiving any money, and competent advice is critical.
The biggest decision for a lottery winner is whether to take a lump-sum payment or a lifetime income. About 75 percent of lottery winners take the lump-sum option. Most winners think they can invest the money well and make it grow. Sound tax and investment advice are essential.
Most lotteries do not give you a check when you present the ticket. Usually the funds are wired to a specified financial institution. The account must be established and wiring instructions are necessary. You are playing with the big boys now. You may want to add a banker to your team.
This would also be a good time to change your telephone number. By law, most states are required to make public the names and hometown of lottery winners. Do you see where this is going?
Most lotteries require that you redeem your winnings within a specified period. Don’t miss this date.
Also, be sure you talk with your tax accountant. Uncle Sam and your home state will take a big chunk of the money. One-third is normal. Also, if you have any child support or back taxes, they will get paid before you do.
Once you are paid, you may want to lay low for a while.
The most dangerous person on the horizon is not outsiders. It is you. You may be your own worst enemy. Remember the cartoon character Pogo’s famous words, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”
Sudden wealth carries an enormous amount of pressure and temptation. Of course, there is the tendency to splurge.
Most people are not prepared for sudden wealth. Suddenly having millions will change your life, and the changes may not be for the better. Some lottery winners regret the day they won. Their life, both financially and emotionally, has never been the same.
The best advice may be to do nothing for a while. Let it sink in. Your team will help buffer requests. Allow for taxes and select investments cautiously.
It is vital that well-conceived goals are set. Identifying and sticking to one’s core values is essential. Part of handling sudden wealth is being practical and part is being psychologically well-grounded.
Think long-term. Think decades. What impact will this money have on you, your family and others?
And be certain to consider the estate planning implications.
These concepts and principles may hold true for receiving any significant amount of money.