Earlier tonight, I saw a meme on a Facebook page for a Veterans group and found it to be a good topic to espouse upon...
So, here's what you should do...
1.) Get a lawyer who specializes in helping lottery winners.
You'll need his help to...
A.) Establish a trust that will collect the winnings...
B.) Decide if you want to collect the annuity or take a lump sum payment...
C.) Pay off all of your bills
D.) Hire at least one CPA to help manage the funds
E.) Develop a strategy with the CPA for growing your money, so that it doesn't run out and you get left standing there penniless...
F.) Pay you a generous monthly stipend for the rest of your life, with the option to take out more if it's necessary.
And you do want to establish a trust that collects the winnings for you. That way, people who look up lists of lottery winners online will see the name of the trust instead of yours.
2.) With regard to large purchases, (homes, cars, et al.), have the trust buy everything for you and keep it in the name of the trust.
Not only does that help to keep you from going broke, it also helps to keep you from being robbed. If no one can use a paper trail to find out that you own a house, fancy car or whatever, they are less likely to be interested in you.
3.) Buy some land in at least 2 different places.
Whether it's houses, apartments or land in the country, just have it in the name of the trust. Never tell anyone that doesn't need to know which place you'll be living in or staying at for any appreciable length of time. Anonymity and being untraceable are now your two new best friends. We've all heard those horror stories about lottery winners who end up going broke, get kidnapped for ransom, et al. You don't need to be one of the horror stories.
You may also want to move away from the place where you live when you win. Even if it's not a permanent move, you do still want your address to be different for at least the first six months. That way, no one can find you if they did hear about you winning a large amount of money. You may want to have your lawyer put the real property you already own into the name of the trust as well. Be sure to discuss that with him.
4.) Get several different vehicles.
They don't need to be fancy, just reliable and suitable for your transportation needs. (However, they can be fancy, if that's what you really want.) I personally recommend that you get a different one for every day of the week. This brings some much-needed variety and makes it much more difficult for people to track you based on the car you drive. How are they going to know which one is which?
I personally would make it even more difficult for anyone to track me based on the vehicle(s) I drive by choosing vehicles that the middle class can afford. These days, I feel no pressing need to buy a Cadillac because a Chevy or a Buick is often quite luxurious as well when properly equipped. Also, since you have money now, you can always get the vehicle customized/hot-rodded to be much more powerful/manueverable than the stock design from the factory. An Impala that's a sleeper is likely to be more fun than a Porsche on a few levels, if only because no one would ever expect your Impala to be outrunning Papparazzi in Porsches.
Also, if you plan to keep the vehicle you drive now, put it in storage for 6 months. Let people forget that you even have the vehicle. After that time has passed, you can reintegrate it into the small fleet of cars you now own. You may also want to have your lawyer put the car you already own into the name of the trust as well. Be sure to discuss that with him.
5.) NEVER tell anyone you have money and don't do anything that will attract attention.
In fact, pretend that you're a Mafiosi that's trying to hide his income from the IRS. Use cash for all small purchases (Grocery stores, Wal-Mart, entertainment expenses, etc.) Don't brag about large purchases like new houses, cars, pinball tables, fancy TV sets or whatever. DON'T flash lots of cash around or use a lot of credit cards. In fact, it may be a good idea to ditch credit cards altogether and use debit cards instead. Talk to the lawyer about that too.
6.) If people do find out you have money (i.e. the state where you won requires your name to be a matter of public record), tell everyone to go speak to your lawyer.
That includes charities, bill collectors, friends/family looking for loans or people with business proposals. Even if it's someone you trust, tell them to talk to the lawyer. The lawyer is not just there to help maintain and grow your money for you. He's also there to tell everyone NO when they come with their hand out. (And they will come...)
7.) If you plan to donate to Charity, do it through the trust.
And have the lawyer research the charity first, to make sure they are not a scam or known for misappropriating funds.
8.) Splurge a little and ONLY ONCE, shortly after getting everything established with the trust...
This gets the urge out of your system. After that, settle into a comfortable routine and enjoy the fact that all this money now gives you lots of free time. Follow a few passions. Pick up a few hobbies. Travel a little (and stay under the radar when doing so). Take a few adult education courses on subjects that interest you. Start a small business that allows you to make a few dollars from your hobby or special interest in life.
9.) Make the Household bills even less of an annoyance or concern.
You're rich now. You shouldn't have to stress about making sure everything gets paid. In addition to having a stipend sent to your account every month, set up another account for your household bills. After all, why should your stipend be spent on the electric bill? Most of those bills can now be paid electronically and should be after you set up a special account specifically for that purpose. You, the accountants and lawyers should still check on these accounts once a month to ensure that there's enough money and that you weren't overcharged. Setting up this electronic transfer is to eliminate the possibility of a check getting lost in the mail.
10.) Remember all those things you were doing to establish good credit? Keep doing them.
In fact, start acting as miserly as possible without turning into a total asshole. Remember, you may be rich now but, that may not always be the case. Tragedy can strike just about any time. It always pays to ensure that people are willing to loan you money with low interest rates.
11.) Be very careful who you associate with in the future.
And this is good advice for people even if you don't win the lottery.
I don't make this point because I want to help you from being judged for who you're hanging out with in public. (Even though that is still a valid concern.) I say this because having some people around may bring you unwanted attention. Remember how we discussed that in Talking Point#5 with your behavior as an individual? Well, it applies to other people too. Actions have consequences and people's actions don't always just negatively affect them alone.
For example, chasing after some celebrity you want to date. We all have that fantasy of dating a certain model or movie star but, would that really be a good thing? Would you want to be around a common Papparazzi target and have them snapping your picture too? People will eventually see those photos. When they do, someone is going to start asking why a stunning young actress is being seen with some ordinary-lookin' nobody. They will start digging around looking for answers. When they do, they might find out who you are and ruin your anonymity.
Getting to screw some Hollywood Actress is not worth having your life turned upside down. Find yourself a gal that looks as hot as a Hollywood Actress instead. Fame isn't always much fun and you will more than likely be happy to never have any of it for the rest of your life.
12.) Trust no one without first verifying they can be trusted.
This one is put last because it may be the most important of all. This goes for EVERYONE, even the lawyer that you hired to be your willing servant of quasi-evil. It wouldn't hurt to have a second lawyer watching that first one. It wouldn't hurt to have a third lawyer keeping track of the second and first one. Same goes for the CPA's you should be hiring to manage the accounts.
That's all I've got for now. If I come up with anything else, I'll write an addendum.
- Lord Publius