When people win the Florida Lottery they win it only once. The odds are just too high to win a big number again. Heck the odds are astronomical to even win it one time in a long lifetime.
Given that, there aren’t a lot of lawyers or law firms that represent Lottery winners. There’s no chance of repeat business and the chances of a referral from a happy Lottery winner are pretty remote as well.
I’ve represented a Florida Lottery winner and I was honored to be his attorney. It was an exciting time for my client and I helped guide him down a path of financial security and long-term stability. It was more than just legal advice, it was active consultation and professional direction from a number of financial experts.
While it may seem fairly straight-forward – I win, I get my money and move on – there are lots of things to consider:
- Should I take the periodic annual payment or get the lump sum and invest the money all at once, my way?
- How much will I owe in taxes?
- Should I take the money in my name or open up a corporation or a trust?
- How do I shield myself from friends and family with financial needs?
- Is there anything I should do in advance of getting my Lottery proceeds?
- How much can I use for today and how much should I save for my retirement?
- The FDIC only insures bank accounts up to $100,000. Is my big money safe in the bank?
My first bit of advice for Lottery winners is, do your homework beforehand. This is precisely why it takes some Lottery winners weeks before claiming their prize from the Florida Lottery Office in Tallahassee. Someone is feverishly working behind the scenes to set everything up the right way.
I’ve been to the Tallahassee Lottery Headquarters and the Lottery officials have lots of questions to be answered in anticipation of a gigantic wire transfer to your bank. My next bit of advice to lottery winners is, have your professional come with you to claim your prize. The details are many, the emotions are heightened and hiring a professional to come with you can ease both the happy emotions with the very stressful emotion of completing the life-changing transaction.
My client asked me as we approached airport security before flying off to Tallahassee, “Do I have to place my $X million winning ticket in that basket and part with it for 60 seconds?” Good question!
Finally, after turning in the winning ticket and securing the wire transfers that would take place within 48 hours, my client and I returned home. Next, we sat down with a series of financial professionals, from accountants, to bankers, to insurance specialists and finally financial investors who helped him carve out a plan for his current financial needs and desires while preserving the main part of his winnings for his secure retirement as well as a legacy for his children and grandchildren.
The hiring of an attorney or financial professional by a Florida Lottery winner is entirely up to the Lottery winner. I like to analogize it with the job of being a financial quarterback. You’re hiring someone who will bring a winning team to you, lessening your stress and emotions of financial vulnerability. At some point in time, every Lottery winner begins to feel like they’re out on a limb for everyone to see. Hiring a professional will get you off of that limb and onto stable ground.
For more information, see my blog post on this website entitled: “Representing Lottery Winners.”