Winning the Powerball: How not to be a loser - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Winning the Powerball: How not to be a loser

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Now that you’re confident your Powerball ship is about to come in, you probably don’t need advice on how to pick your winning numbers or which convenience store sells the most winning tickets. 

So, no reason to bore you with that.  But there are a few things you will need to know once you’re done screaming, yelling and jumping up and down knowing you’re a billion dollars richer.  And it begins with: “don’t quit your day job”.
 
That’s right. The nation’s best financial planners will tell you to wait six months before making any drastic moves. Spur of the moment decisions are almost always decisions you’ll regret later.

Save the big house, luxury car and intentional unemployment for later. What you need the most when winning that kind of mind-numbing money is a whole bunch of normal. No one is prepared socially or emotionally for a billion dollar windfall.

“Absolutely not,” says Attorney Andrew Lohn with Bart, Meyer & Company. “This will change your life dramatically.”

Savannah’s Bart, Meyer & Company ought to know.  It’s already helped a few lottery winners plan for the future.  But they are only part of what you’ll need.

“You need a team,” adds Lohn. “And that team should be comprised of an attorney who has good tax and estate planning advice, a good CPA, someone who knows how to work with high net worth individuals and also a good investment advisor.”
 
Your first dollars should be spent on the stuff you already have. Yes, pay of all your debts including student loans, cars, homes and credit cards. There is no better investment than owing no one, anything.

“Hop off social media,” Lohn advise. “Change your email address, change your phone number. If you can get out of town, do that.”

But the number one piece of advice given by Forbes magazine for big lottery winners in Georgia is to make sure you’re not buying your tickets in states like Georgia.  You see, state law in Georgia and 37 other states force you to tell the world about your winnings.  Anonymity, the experts will tell you, is critical when you come into a cool billion dollars. However, buy your tickets just across the border in South Carolina, and no one has to know you won a buck. 

South Carolina is one of six states that doesn’t make you shout your good fortune from the rooftops.

“You need a bunker,” says Lohn. “You need a buffer. You need somebody who can prevent everybody and their dog from coming after you and asking for money. If you are in Georgia, which I don’t believe allows that, you have just put a big target on your back.”

The manager of Patel’s Shell station just over the border from Savannah in Beaufort County banks on you knowing that.

“People are more like willing to buy it down here because they know once they get that big money and cash it out, they don’t have to reveal themselves,” says Jose Chaires, manager of Patel’s Shell station. “They don’t have to tell you ‘hey, this is me.’ You know, come get me.”
 
John Schlender doesn’t want anyone coming to get him.  The Savannah resident crosses the border into South Carolina for every pick.
 
“They don’t release the names if you don’t want them to,” says Schlender.  “Where as in Georgia you’re part of the advertising and they have to release your name. That, I believe, would destroy someone’s life.”
 
There are thousands of attorneys, accountants, charities and long lost relatives just waiting for your big announcement.  However, if you’re still showing up for work, driving the same car, playing it cool and not having to pose with the great big check, you’ve got all the time in the world to create a plan of escape.

As a winner, most of us have every intention of donating some of that money to charity and giving some of that money to family. Don’t, until you’ve talked to a tax specialist. Your donations could cost you millions in taxes.

Finally, sign the back of every Powerball ticket you bought. If you lose that ticket unsigned, it is finders’ keepers. Lose it with a signature and you’re still the only one who can cash it in.

Remember, if you win this lottery or any other, you instantly become rich not brilliant.

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