How Should One Handle a Large Lottery Win?

by Alasdair Smith, Demand Media
    Handling a big lottery win takes serious planning.

    Handling a big lottery win takes serious planning.

    Most of us have dreamed of winning a substantial amount in a lottery at some point in our lives, but what would you do if it actually happened? Having millions of dollars on hand might seem like a dream come true, but it's important that you treat such a windfall responsibly. Take careful stock of your situation and plan carefully how you're going to deal with your new-found wealth to get maximum benefit from it.

    Keep the Ticket Safe

    It sounds obvious, but if your numbers have come up with a big win, keep your ticket in a safe place. Write your name and address on the reverse, then put it in a safe deposit box or home safe. Having it tucked away will mean you can safely wait for all the hoopla of a big win to fade away before coming forward with your claim. Keeping your big win to yourself will buy you time to gather your thoughts on how you want to move on.

    Get Advice

    When you make your claim, get professional advice on how best to deal with your new wealth. The advice you receive should include how to invest your winnings, which means you will want to hire a financial planner. It should also include personal advice on how best to handle the win psychologically and legal advice about your new status as a multimillionaire. For these, you will need a counselor and attorney. Previous lottery winners advise against making major personal changes. Instead, they suggest you allow yourself time to adapt gradually to your new circumstances.

    Pay off Your Debt

    Having money in the bank will let you to settle all outstanding debts, such as credit-card balances and mortgage loans. This will free you from the worry of having to deal with payments every month. Enjoy the feeling of being debt free for perhaps the first time in your adult life.

    Invest Sensibly

    With good planning and advice, your lottery win can provide you with a regular income for life. Your financial advisers can advise you on the right kinds of financial investments. You will likely want to have some money in easily accessible checking and savings accounts, as well as long-term investments that can help you build more wealth for your later years.

    Plan for Your Future

    With your winnings invested and a regular income stream established, you can afford to plan for other things in your future. You might want to invest in a new home in a better area; set up a college fund for your kids; or invest in a retirement property. Whatever you do, be sure that you don't tap into money you will need later in life.

    Live a Little, Give a Little

    Research with lottery winners conducted by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) in 2003 highlighted the range of sensible choices made by most winners. Just don't forget that alongside taking sensible steps to secure your financial future it's important to live a little. Over 60 percent of winners bought a new car, and more than half took a vacation. Three quarters of them shared their good fortune with family and friends. While you're thinking of others, you might also want to consider making a donation to your favorite charities or social causes.

    Protect Yourself

    The downside of a big lottery win is the likelihood of being approached by strangers for support. While this is inevitable, taking some precautions, like de-listing your phone number and moving to another home, will help keep unwanted intruders at bay. If you've been lucky enough to win a seriously large amount of money, you might also want to consider beefing up your personal security for awhile.

    About the Author

    Alasdair Smith is a Scottish-based writer with over four years professional experience. He has written for the "Times Educational Supplement (Scotland)," "Family History Magazine," "Scottish Memories," BBC Radio Scotland, the "Arran Voice" and The Herald newspapers. He holds a Master of Business Administration from University of Strathclyde.

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