The Mega Hundreds of thousands jackpot is $1.1 billion. Find out how to schedule sharing
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If you’ve never been beaten for money by family or friends, that will likely change if you were to win Tuesday’s $1.1 billion Mega Millions jackpot.
The grand prize has been climbing through twice-weekly draws since mid-October, with no ticket matching all six numbers drawn to win the grand prize. This is the fourth time the game’s jackpot has surpassed the $1 billion mark and if won at this level, it would be the fifth largest lottery jackpot of all time.
Of course, the advertised $1.1 billion for Tuesday night’s draw is what you would get if you chose to take your winnings as an annuity over three decades. The flat cash option – which most jackpot winners choose instead – is $576.8 million as of Tuesday noon.
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While some of your profits would go towards taxes, the amount you would get after those taxes would be more than most people see in their lives. It can also make you a target for people who want a share of your newfound wealth, experts say.
Of course, not everyone will be after you, said Emily Irwin, managing director of advice and planning at Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management. “But… you never know what’s going to happen.”
When “the inevitable asking for money occurs,” she said, “how do you make sure you’re comfortable saying yes or no?”
Here are some tips to avoid trouble.
Share the news with as few people as possible
If you manage to beat the odds stacked against a single ticket hitting the jackpot – the odds of hitting Motherlode Tuesday is about 1 in 302.6 million – one of the most important things is what you need to do is share the news with as few people as possible.
“It’s hard for even your inner circle to keep quiet,” said certified financial planner Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Being able to keep your identity safe from the public can help minimize who finds out and protect you from random strangers hoping to get a share of your profits. Some states allow you to make claims anonymously, while others may allow you to form a legal entity — such as a trust — to claim the windfall, protecting your name from the public.
Create a plan for how and when to donate
Before you even claim your prize, consider assembling a team of professionals to help you navigate your new fortune. This group should include at least one experienced attorney, financial adviser and accountant.
One thing to think about during this pre-claiming phase, with your team’s guidance, is if and how you want to use some of the profits to benefit others.
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Some jackpot winners use their philanthropic side by either establishing a private foundation or using other tax-advantaged avenues to make charitable contributions. Identifying what causes you want to support from the start — protecting the environment or fighting hunger, for example — can make using those charitable dollars easier and more rewarding, experts say.
You can also set an annual limit on what you give away, be it to charities or individuals.
Set limits on money going to family and friends
For sharing with family and friends, you should also set up parameters, Irwin said.
“I think it’s helpful to think about the terms under which you would give away money,” Irwin said. “Are you now the bank for the family?
“If there is a catastrophic event, will you be there?” She added. “If someone wants to start a business, do you give them seed capital or is it a loan?”
The benefit of creating a plan, Irwin said, is that it “can eliminate guilt when you say no to individuals or organizations.”
Additionally, she said, without limits, “you could be in a position where you go through funds at an accelerated rate … and find yourself saying yes more often than you’d like.”
Also, keep in mind that some gifts come with a “carrying cost” that needs to be considered, Irwin said. For example, if you’re buying an expensive home for yourself and each of your four siblings, those properties can come with ongoing, inflated bills and maintenance costs that you may have to bear.
Most importantly, winning hundreds of millions of dollars would be a chance to create long-term financial stability for you and your loved ones if you think ahead.
“Take care of yourself and your family first,” Irwin said. “Make sure you don’t make decisions that could unduly damage your own bottom line and comfort.”
Meanwhile, Powerball’s jackpot for Monday night’s draw is $340 million (cash option is $178.2 million). The odds of winning the Powerball grand prize are slightly better than Mega Millions: 1 in 292 million.