Winners of a jackpot in Georgia have a few different options as to how they accept their prize. In addition to claiming the prize as an individual, a winner can designate a separate legal entity to collect the prize. Under Georgia's rules, the legal entity could be a partnership, a corporation or a trust.
Time Frames to Claim
Instant tickets are good for 90 days after the game that they represent ends. Tickets for draw games such as Powerball, Georgia FIVE or Mega Millions are good for 180 days from the date on which the numbers are drawn. If you submit a ticket after it expires, the Georgia Lottery doesn't have to pay you anything, so it recommends turning in tickets sooner rather than later. Once you submit your claim, you could be paid the same day, although large jackpots may take a little while longer.
Procedure to Claim
If your jackpot is no more than $600, you can claim it in person where you bought the ticket or at any other place that sells Georgia Lottery tickets. Winning tickets bought through the web that pay up to $5,000 get directly credited to your iHOPEcard account if you have one. If you win a jackpot or a prize over $5,000, you will have to go to a district office for the Georgia Lottery or to its Atlanta-based headquarters to claim your prize. Large prizes require you to sign your ticket, fill out a claim form, and show two forms of identification that can verify both your address and your Social Security number.
Preparing to Claim
While you might want to claim your ticket sooner rather than later to avoid the risk of having it expire, if you win the lottery, you may also want to do some preparation. Talking to a tax and financial advisor can help you decide what to do with the money and potentially help you reduce the amount that you lose in taxes. If you plan to collect your earnings in a trust or other legal entity, you will need time to set it up.
The Trust Option
Some people choose to set up trusts to claim lottery winnings for them because a trust conveys real benefits. While lottery trusts can convey anonymity to winners, they don't do that in Georgia; the state discloses the names of winners. Nevertheless, a trust can still help you to manage how you spend your winnings, and may potentially shelter some of them from taxes. A trust can also be useful if you win the lottery with other people and want to set up a way to share the payments.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.