I don’t know too many people who didn’t buy a ticket for last week’s Powerball. Who wouldn’t want to have millions of dollars? But the issue is what do you do with when you get it?

Years ago I interviewed an author who wrote a book about what to do when you win the lottery. He, like so many others, says the first thing you absolutely must do is sign the ticket. You’ve seen the crazy movies where someone wins the lottery and doesn’t sign the ticket, the ticket is stolen and the whole movie is spent trying to get the ticket back. After signing the ticket if the amount is truly large you just might want to retain an attorney and please make sure the person you retain is not broke. At this point everyone is suspect.

I just read a news story about a former garbage man that won more than $60 million in the lottery. He hired a so-called financial planner whose only plan was to separate him and his family from their money. The lottery winner soon disappeared and the financial planner said he was in hiding. Come to find out he was buried in her back yard.

Now let’s get back to your plan, you will want to find out if you have to announce winning the prize. Not all states require that you do. One thing that was strongly recommended is to set up a foundation, this way when your friends and distant relatives start asking for money just tell them to apply to your foundation. When you first discover that you have won, after you sign the ticket, put it in a secure place like a safe deposit box and go on a two-week vacation and make a plan. It is advised that you do have some fun with the money, go ahead and buy that new convertible. Don’t let anyone pull you into any get rich quick schemes, remember you are already rich and don’t start feeling guilty and start giving the money away. Keep in mind the words of the late Robin Harris. When he got his first big deal someone asked him if he was going to change? He replied, “you got durn right I’m going to change.” So you will have to change and perhaps change some of your crew or posse, they will find a way to spend your money and since you are the one with the loot they will expect to pay every time you go somewhere.

Here is more good advice, copy the front and back of your lottery ticket. Place the copy—not the original—of your ticket in an envelope. Send it to yourself in a sealed envelope, preferably by certified mail. Do not open the envelope when it comes. File it away in a safe place. You are doing this to prevent the theft of your ticket, and to provide proof that the ticket is yours in the event that it is stolen. Put the original in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. Remember you may have up to a year to claim your prize.

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