Lottery lovers are gearing up for some major jackpot drawings this week.
First up is the $750 million Mega Millions drawing on Friday, Jan. 15. The Powerball’s winning numbers will follow the next day for its $640 million jackpot.
Almost $1.4 billion up for grabs is certainly enough to get lottery players excited.
These are the first massive jackpots in a while for both games. Frequent winners throughout 2020 kept the jackpots low.
Lottery tickets are incredibly popular in Indiana, so who knows, maybe a Hoosier ends up winning one of the jackpots.
What to do if you win the lottery
So let’s say you’re one of this weekend’s big jackpot winners.
What should you do? What steps should you take to keep you and your winnings safe?
First thing’s first, keep your mouth shut until you have a plan. The last thing you want is hordes of people or family members swarming you from every angle.
You’ll need to hire some people to help you pull this off correctly.
When searching for advisors, look for fee-only professionals rather than commission-based.
Fee-only folks work for a flat-rate, while those on commission take a percentage of the money they’re working with. If you’re winning a $750 million jackpot, even a small commission would really start to add up.
You should start by hiring a lawyer.
There are certain rules that lottery winners have to follow if they want to stay anonymous.
For example, in Indiana, you can’t claim your winnings anonymously unless you go through a limited liability corporation or a legal trust. A lawyer will help you set those up.
You can also get some legal advice on whether taking the jackpot as a lump-sum or as payments over time is best for you.
The Hoosier Lottery recommends signing the back of your ticket, but know that that might not always be the best advice. It could cause problems if you plan on staying anonymous, so if you can keep your winning ticket safe, consider holding off on signing your ticket until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
Next up, you’re going to need an accountant and a financial planner.
These two will help you manage your money once you have it. They can also help you out when it comes to investments and long-term financial planning.
To sum it up, here are the six things you should do when you win big:
However, first you’ll need to know how to actually claim your prize.
How to claim lottery prizes in Indiana
Claiming lottery prizes in Indiana is a pretty simple process.
In Indiana, you have 180 days to claim your prize, so that leaves plenty of time to get your affairs in order if you win a huge jackpot.
The way you claim your prize depends on how large it is.
If you’ve won under $600, you can try redeeming your ticket from the Hoosier Lottery retailer that you bought it from. Not every retailer will redeem prizes worth a few hundred dollars, but this is the fastest way to get your money if it works out.
If you can’t redeem your prize from the retailer, then you’ll have to send it to the Hoosier Lottery via mail. Just follow these steps:
- Fill out the back of your ticket
- Print and fill out a Hoosier Lottery winner claim form, leaving lines 1-6 blank
- Fill out IRS FORM 5754, if multiple people are claiming the prize
- Staple your ticket to a copy of your government ID
- Mail everything to 1302 North Meridian Street Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46202
- Wait 7-10 business days for your winnings
If you win between $600-$49,999, then either claim you winnings via mail or by visiting a Hoosier Lottery Prize Payment Center in Indianapolis, Mishawaka or Evansville.
Claiming a big prize by mail? The Hoosier Lottery recommends using UPS, FedEx or USPS Certified.
If you’re really lucky and end up winning $50,000 or more, then call the Hoosier Lottery at 1-800-955-6886 to schedule an appointment for claiming your prize.