How to Keep Your Lottery Winnings in Good Shape

lottery winner

A lottery winner has a long list of things to do — from paying off credit card debt and student loan bills to building a new house. Another item on the to-do list for many is visiting places that have been on their bucket lists. The Oregon Lottery announced this month that one of its winners plans to save some of her winnings and use them for a 10-day bike excursion through Tuscany.

Unfortunately, that kind of opulence can also bring on a host of problems. A Florida study found that lottery winners who receive annual installment payments are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy than those who received a lump sum. Whether you opt for the annuity payments or cash, experts agree that assembling a team of financial professionals is key to keeping your newfound wealth in good shape.

Whether it’s the result of addictions, reckless spending or just plain old bad luck, many lottery winners find themselves in a hole they can’t dig out of. Evelyn Basehore beat one in 15 trillion odds to win the New Jersey Pick Six lottery in 1985 and won nearly $4 million, but by 2000 she was living in a trailer park. She’d spent millions on gambling, high-end clothes and gifts and racked up legal entanglements.

Swindlers and grifters are also attracted to lottery winners, as evidenced by the death of Marva Wilson, a Missouri great-grandmother who won $2 million in 2012. She was murdered in her home after claiming her lump-sum payout, which was reported to be $13 million.