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There is a chance that at least some people will end up much richer by 2020 than most of us.
With no ticket matching all six figures drawn in Mega Millions on Tuesday, the jackpot jumped to $ 401 million for Friday night’s draw. Powerball’s highest price is not far behind, at $ 363 million for Wednesday night’s draw.
If you’re lucky enough to be the next big winner, experts believe that protecting your windfall will protect your identity if you can.
‘Four hundred million dollars will attract a lot [attention], “said attorney Kurt Panouses, founder of Panouses Law Group in Indialantic, Florida, and an expert in helping lottery winners.
By keeping your victory quiet, you protect yourself from strangers and scammers who want a piece of the prize.
Yet states do not always make privacy easy: only a handful leave winners completely anonymous. In others, you can claim the prize through a corporation with trust or limited liability, or LLC, on which your name does not appear – yet you need to plan for it.
Here are tips for big lottery winners to try and maintain their privacy.
Handling your ticket
The standard advice is to draw the back of your ticket. However, if you happen to be in a state that allows a trust or LLC to claim the prize, you may want to put up with the signature if privacy is important to you.
“You obviously want to protect the ticket, but the name on the back of the ticket is the beneficiary,” Panouses said. “The back of the ticket is important for privacy purposes.”
In most states, he said that if you use an LLC or a trust to claim the money, you can disclose your name.
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Panousas said he also created trusts whose beneficiaries are so-called subtrusts instead of the winners. It adds an extra layer of privacy protection.
While you may want to share your exciting news, experts say the less people know it, the better.
“Keep the circle small of people who know no one, or tell no one,” Panouses said.
In addition, if you claim the victory in collaboration with, for example, other family members – ie via a trust or LLC as a shared prize – all parties involved must sign non-disclosure agreements, Panouses said.
In addition to choosing experienced professionals to help navigate the windfall, it may also be wise to avoid professionals from your hometown if you are concerned about the news that your profit is leaking.
“Someone in the office can say to others, ‘Oh, this is the lottery winner,'” Panouses said. He relies on a large investment and trust business with a record of serving wealthy households.
“When I open accounts with them, I know the information will not be disclosed,” Panouses said.
Plan an escape
It’s probably a good idea to skip the city a bit after claiming the price.
“We’re making sure the winners have a plan to go a week or so after they claim,” Panouses said. “If people find out you won, they might show up at your house.”
It’s also worth changing your cell phone number, he said. If you have a landline, it needs to be changed as well.
You will also want to close your social media accounts if you can not remain anonymous.