We all know what we would do if we won the lottery. But, we don't necessarily know what we should do. Despite the odds being 1 in 302.5 million, someone will eventually win the Mega Millions jackpot.
If you do win, take a deep breath, sign the ticket and put it in a safe spot. Keep your mouth shut and find yourself a reputable financial planner. You'll need to choose between the cash option, which currently would be over $500 million, or an annuity, which pays out over 29 years. The annuity does have it's advantages. It reduces the tax bill and gives a flow of income annually. That said, most opt for the cash option.
Hire a experienced lottery lawyer. They will help explain how to answer media questions. They can also help with the decision on how to receive the money.
Don't wait too long to claim the jackpot. Each state has different rules, but generally, you have 180 days to a year.
But, don't count on getting that check immediately. Payment varies by state but, should take about a week or two.
You can't remain anonymous in most states. You can in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. But, not in New York.
Hire an accountant. Expect to pay 24 percent in federal taxes. States collect taxes too. New York collects an additional 8.8 percent of your winnings. And you'll probably be paying more taxes at the end of the year, as you'll likely be in a new tax bracket.
Have all requests for money go through your lawyer. They can be the bad guy and tell Aunt Mary no when she requests a million dollars to pay off her house.
Take a vacation. Getting out of town will prevent you from losing your mind to the constant knock on the door for money. By the time you get back, hopefully everything will have calmed down.
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