You've won the lottery. Great! But now your problems start...
For example, what happens when you win big this Saturday - but you can't get into the lottery headquarters to present your ticket and collect your monster check until Monday?
You can't put it into a safe deposit box because the banks are closed. How do you keep it secure?
This kind of scenario often goes through the minds of many winners.
So they sleep with the ticket under their pillow. Some others will put it in the fridge, thinking this will be the last place a burglar would look (wrong - skilled burglars are far more savvy than you realize!)
There are many other questions that winners wonder about. Here are the top 7 problems, along with some solutions...
#1. You lose your ticket.
Not good. You might lose your money, because to claim your prize you must present your winning ticket. Without your ticket, there is no proof of ownership, and this means you won't be able to collect your winnings. First step is to sign your ticket. By signing it acts as strong security against someone else trying to claim your prize if your ticket is lost or stolen. But usually your money is gone for good unless you have the physical ticket. Even a photocopy is unlikely to get accepted by the lottery organization.
#2. Your ticket is stolen.
The obvious answer is not to tell a soul until you receive the check from the lottery organization. Then they'll have no reason to steal it! But you can protect it first by signing it with your name and address. The Washington Lottery explains: "Like currency or dollar bills, Lottery tickets are 'bearer instruments' in that the holder of the ticket is the owner, unless the ticket is signed. By signing the back of your Lottery ticket, you make the ticket officially 'yours'. Only the person whose name matches the signature on the ticket may claim its winnings."
#3. You're asked to share proceeds from a ticket given as a gift.
There have been many cases where a lotto ticket was given as a gift, and the giver received nothing back in return. Since the prize is seen as 'found' money - money that cost little to obtain - so there will always be resentment that the giver didn't receive any part of the winnings. Why not split it with them? Even a 90/10 split will go a long way to keeping the friendship.
#4. Your family makes claims on the prize.
As in (#3), if you worry about your family or friends arguing about claiming a portion of the prize, then why not split the money up equally among all the family?
#5. You miss the expiry deadline.
Lottery tickets do expire, so you need to check the dates on the back of the ticket. If you miss the deadline, you're unlikely to get your prize. The best way is to make a regular trip to your lotto store after each game and have them put the tickets through their machine. You get added security by knowing there won't be any mistakes too.
#6. You get discovered after winning.
The Powerball website says you can't remain anonymous when you win one of their big prizes, and many other games have similar rules. The USA Powerball website FAQ says: "All but five states (DE, KS, MD, ND, OH) have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks. Other states may offer to assist you in some way, including such things as the creation of trusts. But generally, you may wish to hire an attorney to review the laws in your state to see what options you might have. Photos and press conferences are up to you for most, but not all states. Check with your state lottery to see if photos or more are required."
Check out your own lottery website for its policy on keeping your name out of the media. It's worthwhile staying under cover for as long as you can.
#7. You get begging letters you can't refuse.
Conceal your winning amount so you don't receive them, or move house. Or ignore the letters. There's no secret to avoiding these letters except by not receiving them in the first place.
Watch out for these problems and take steps to minimize the effects. After all, figuring out how to spend your jackpot is already stressful enough!