Here is a guide to stay anonymous when you win the lottery. All of us have fantasies of hitting the lottery like the latest cars, boat, the…lawsuits, predators, & bankruptcies. But the winning ticket is not necessarily the winning ticket for a happier life, which is exact why the winner of Jan’s Powerball jackpot of $560 million wants to keep her name away from the public record. But the New Hampshire, where she lives, does not allow winners to claim their winnings anonymously, & so in Jan she filed a lawsuit in an attempt for protecting her identity.
The states have interest in making lotto winners’ identities public to protect integrity of the game—see, for instance, the Iowa security chief who has rigged the $16.5 million lottery (had been a computer programmer in the state lottery office & evidently did something programmy with numbers) and tried to claim it anonymously.
Only seven states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and likely soon Georgia) do allow winners to shield their identities. Some other states, like California and Wisconsin, entirely forbid winners for remaining anonymous, “and then there are the states with gray areas,” according to Jason Kurland, an attorney in East Meadow, New York. Jason has represented jackpot winners in past. Depending on the place you live, you can form a trust & hide behind that. Your lawyer can become the face of the trust.
Now this is what Jane Doe, in New Hampshire did (but she already signed her lottery ticket in her name, and lottery officials refused to let her white out her name and re-sign in the name of trust.
Most advisors do instruct the winner to sign ticket immediately so that ownership is indisputable –does New Hampshire case mean that lucky holder of the winning Powerball ticket should not sign the back of ticket? Kurland does note that leaving the ticket unsigned, & risking someone -even your lawyer- stealing it, is a very big risk. What is his solution? “must sign it, but sign it the small, so you can add trustees, or several trustees, & the name of trust.
Once you have signed, find a trust and estates attorney in your state so get advise. This person will also put you in touch with some financial planner—you are going to owe taxes, and you will likely want to consider how to handle charitable contributions & gifts to family & friends. Kurland says, “Once you set up your team, you can’t go wrong,”.
New York City trusts & estates attorney Alison Besunder does say, “The bigger problem arises when there is an oral (usually flippant) promise to share the proceeds.” So in case you want to stay anonymous? Must keep your mouth shut.