Almost everyone has daydreamed about winning the lottery and the new dream lifestyle that would come with those winnings. And while it’s true that you’d be able to afford your dream house and the like, relationships with friends, family, and even acquaintances can become a nightmare. It’s one of the reasons many lottery winners prefer not to share the news. How to claim lottery winnings anonymously, especially in a state such as Rhode Island that does not allow winners to collect their winnings with complete anonymity, is complicated. But just like winning the lottery, it’s not impossible.
Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina are the only states that allow winners to remain anonymous. Other states encourage their winners to share their identity to help drive sales of lotto tickets. More states are leaning toward allowing winners to claim lottery winnings anonymously because of concern the winners become targets for burglary. But for now, if you live in one of other states that do not allow winners to remain anonymous, you will want to work with a lawyer to help devise a legal structure that can obscure your identity.
Create a Blind Trust to Claim Lottery Winnings Anonymously
The term “blind trust” commonly describes a trust set up for a politician. An independent third party manages the assets, and the politician is “blind” to the decisions made on their behalf. However, the definition can also include creating a trust or LLC in a way that the owner is not readily identifiable. In this scenario, you name the trust something that does not directly relate to you. Avoid using your name or your children’s name, or any other details that would connect back to you easily. This will help block people from quickly learning your identity if they are searching for keywords against registered trusts. However, in this scenario, your name will be associated with the set up of the blind trust. Interested parties could uncover your identity with a more diligent search.
Or Create a Trust Within a Trust
You may feel the blind trust option does not provide enough privacy protection. If so, you can work with a lawyer to create a trust within a trust. The first trust utilized is a “Claiming Trust.” This trust is set up only to claim the winnings, which then transfers to the secondary trust. As in the case of the blind trust, you will want to name this trust something arbitrary that does not directly tie itself to you.
The Claiming Trust assets transfer into a “Bridge Trust” on your behalf. The bridge trust is temporary while the trustee determines their estate planning strategy. This will not provide the same level of anonymity as the Claiming Trust. However, the beneficiary listed for the Bridge Trust is the name created for Claiming Trust.
Keep Your “Circle of Trust” Small
This type of trust has nothing to do with an attorney but is crucial for maintaining your privacy. It will be difficult not to share the excitement of winning with everyone. But once you have, those you share the excitement with might want a share of those winnings. So keep your circle of trust—those you entrust the news with—small. Or better yet, keep completely quiet about the win and claim your lottery winnings anonymously. You can always share the news (and money) later, once you’ve had time to digest the news. But there’s no going back once you tell others of your newfound fortune.
Keep Your Life as Routine as Possible
It may feel impossible not to run out and buy the nearest mansion or newest Tesla. But doing so will raise suspicions of friends and family. How could it not? So you’ll need to consider how to keep your life looking “normal.” Doing so might mean waiting to make any significant purchases or being sure not to flaunt any purchases you do make.
Some lottery winners keep their pre-lotto home and purchase a second vacation home at the onset. This way they could enjoy splurging a bit while maintaining their “regular” life in their community. Even if others do find out, they are less likely to ask for money if you aren’t seen spending it!
So while there are things you can do to claim lottery winnings anonymously, with the guidance of an attorney, you will have a much better chance of keeping your identity private while you decide when, or if, you want to share your remarkable win with the world at large.