There are some things you need to be sure of if you hit a jackpot. First thing, find out if you actually hold a winning ticket. Always double check the numbers and dates on your lottery ticket. In case you missed the lottery draw on the television, it would be smart to check the results on more than one source. Do not destroy the ticket unless you’re sure that your ticket is a loser. Here are some important tips and information for the lucky winners-
1. First thing first, whether you win or not, never forget to sign the back of your lottery ticket. An unsigned ticket is a bearer’s instrument and you can do nothing about it if someone else gets their hands on your ticket and claims it as theirs. It's better to sign the ticket than to deal with the consequences.
2. Check the dates and deadline to claim your prize money. Don’t wait too long because nothing hurts worse than an unclaimed jackpot. Most states have a time limit of 180 days to claim the jackpot but it varies state to state and game to game as well. Always double-check the dates and mark it on your calendar or put on a reminder on your mobile.
3. If you win prize money up to $599, you can redeem your prize easily without having to go through any trouble or formalities. But to claim prize money worth more than $600, you might have to find a state claim center. For further information on claiming your prize money, you can visit the official website
or call the hotline given on the back of the lottery ticket. If you play lottery games frequently, you can also subscribe to the official newsletter of the lottery. It is the best way to stay updated with the rules and conditions or any other information about the lottery game.
4. Although you might be tempted to sort this out on mail, it is not the wisest thing to do. Actually, it is the most preferred way to conduct lottery scams. Imagine putting a lottery ticket worth millions of dollars in an envelope and mailing it! Doesn’t feel so good anymore, right?
5. There are often payment options available to either take the prize as a lump-sum cash payment (which is almost half of the jackpot amount after taxes) or take an annuity (installments almost for next 30 years). Some states or games allow you to select your choice after you win while other asks at the time of ticket purchase.
6. The most important thing a winner should do is to see a tax attorney before collecting the prize. In case the jackpot winner dies, heirs will get the money but unless the deceased has set up legal trusts, inheritance taxes can wipe out almost the entire fortune won in the lottery. The IRS requires lotteries to withhold 25 percent federal tax from prizes worth more than $5000. There could be other smaller state taxes withheld.
7. Finally, keep a low profile. The fewer people who know you are a winner, the better for your own safety. Make sure apart from your lawyer and close family members, nobody else knows. This is especially true until you get your ticket validated.
Once you’ve got all your formalities completed and have the money in your hand, wear a pair of sunglasses and smile for the cameras. You are a winner after all!