So you won the $1.02 billion Mega Millions jackpot, what should you do next?

“What would you do if you won Mega Millions?”

That’s a question being asked across the country this week as lottery players hope to be the lucky ones to bring home the $1.02 billion Mega Millions jackpot on Friday night. The massive jackpot is the third-largest lottery jackpot in gaming history and the fourth-largest lottery jackpot in US history.

While people dream of luxury homes, exotic cars, luxury vacations and more, the answer to the above questions should be “make a solid plan”.

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If you win, you’ll have plenty of time to spend the money, but creating a plan, creating a budget, and hiring people who will keep you and your money safe should be a top priority.

The first thing you’ll want to do is put the winning ticket in a safe place, such as a safe or a safe at a local bank. When looking for the lawyer and finance team, be sure to take photos of the front and back of the ticket so you can provide proof without having to bring the ticket with you.

While some experts will tell you to sign the back of the ticket right away, no one but you can claim it, which can also limit your options when it comes to actually claiming the prize. More on that in a moment.

Once the ticket is secure and you have some time to process the winnings, you will want to contact an attorney and financial advisor to help you make the legal and monetary decisions that fit your plans for the money. In some states, an attorney may claim the award on your behalf to keep you anonymous. Or you can create a trust to claim the reward as an asset to the trust.

Related story: How to play Mega Millions and Powerball

Some states, such as Michigan, require the winner’s identity to be disclosed, and you cannot claim the prize through a trust. However, a loophole in the laws regarding Lottery Clubs in Michigan may allow you to bypass the requirement.

However, if you already signed the ticket before forming a trust or choosing an agent to claim the money on your behalf, these options may no longer be available depending on where you live.

Your newly acquired team will help you decide whether you want the lump sum or the annual bonus. The lump sum allows you to pay all taxes on the money immediately and access the full reward. Typically, after taxes and other deductions, the lump sum is worth about 60% of the total bonus.

The annuity allows you to get the full value of the bonus, but you receive the money in the form of annuities and you cannot access all of your earnings at once. An annuity also has the advantage of forcing you into some sort of budget just because you get so much money each year.

Hiring a finance team will also ensure that you pay your taxes properly and help those you give money to. Even if you want to be generous with money, your donors may have to pay taxes on the money. A financial professional can protect you and your philanthropists.

Related story: Mega Millions $1.02 billion jackpot: Here’s how much you’ll pay in taxes

Your attorney is also required to set up a plan for the money if you die or are unable to manage the money on your own. Having a plan is especially important if you received the award as an annuity and did not receive all of your payments.

Probably the most important tip is to take the time and hire people with the appropriate credentials and a history of dealing with clients with massive assets. Depending on where you live, you have up to one year from the date of the draw to claim the prize. You just earned a billion dollars, so you can’t afford to miss out on work getting these tasks done.

Be diligent, make a plan, and prepare for the life-changing experience before you.

For the latest information on the Michigan Lottery, check out the official Michigan Lottery site, which offers instant tickets, sweepstakes, and more information on other lottery games.

The last players from Michigan to win Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots are the Wolverine FLL lottery club, which claimed $1.05 billion in March 2021. The group plans to give its earnings back to the community.

And while they may be the lucky winners, it’s wise for players to check their tickets right away, as a $1 million winner sold at Warren last year was unclaimed. Instead, the money went to the state’s School Aid Fund.

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