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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – So you have your lottery ticket, you’ve checked the numbers a few hundred times, and sure enough, you are now a multi-millionaire.
Now what? Don’t try to make decisions in the moment, plan to follow these steps for when you become the big winner.
Step 1: Put the ticket in a safe place and sign it. Make sure you immediately sign the winning lottery ticket, as it is a “bearer” instrument. Legally, whoever holds the ticket is the winner.
Step 2: Take care of yourself. Being super rich has its own level of extreme stress.
“While everybody handles these things differently, it’s not uncommon to experience anxiety, paranoia, or even a strange out-of-body feeling,” warns financial planner Robert Pagliarini. “For some, these feelings are fleeting, but for others, they can persist and make it hard to sleep, function and make logical decisions.””
Step 3: Assemble a team. Get ready for a new level of tax and financial issues you’ve never experienced before.
“You want to meet with a retirement planner, a financial advisor, an attorney, a CPA,” said financial adviser Mike Kojenen. “You need to put some roadblocks up to protect yourself and your privacy.”
They can also help you choose between talking a lump sum or an annuity, and plan in advance against predatory claims against your assets.
Paying off your existing debts – credit cards, student loans and so forth – will also help clear the way for your future.
Step 4: Prepare for publicity. To get the money, you likely will need to reveal your fortune to the world. Only Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.
News reporters will come to talk to you, your family and your friends. Have a public relations strategy in play before you claim the money. If you are going to be your own spokesperson, know in advance what you want to share, and when to share it – or hire a professional to speak on your behalf.
Step 5: Prepare for a change in reality. They say money changes people, and a lot of money can affect a lot of your life.
“Step outside the craziness of the situation for a moment and make a list of Who and What you love about your life that you don’t want to change,” said Pagliarini. “Money is best when you use it to improve your life, not necessarily change it.”