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Financial Planning

Four Financial Pros Advise What to Do With Your Powerball Winnings

An estimated 70% of lottery winners go broke. Don’t be one of them. An independent financial adviser can help keep you on track with any financial windfall.

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It’s not every day that somebody wins $100 million or more overnight. It may not happen in the growing Powerball jackpot, with an estimated jackpot of $348 million for the next drawing on May 4. It may not happen with the next drawing, either. But each time there is no winner, the pot gets bigger and bigger. Eventually, somebody will win -- big.

See Also: How Much Tax You'll Pay on Lottery Winnings

Kiplinger asked four financial advisers -- all contributors to our Wealth Creation Channel -- for advice on how to handle a massive financial windfall. Have a look:

Taylor Schulte, CFP
Founder and CEO, Define Financial

Take your dream vacation. You just won one of the largest prizes in lottery history! The odds were 1 in 292.2 million. You were more likely to get bitten by a shark or to be killed by an asteroid. Before you get back to reality and start planning for the future, treat yourself and your loved ones to a trip of a lifetime. The experience and memories will far outweigh any material items you thought you needed.

Schedule a financial roundtable with your family and trusted advisers. An estimated 70% of lottery winners go broke. If you don’t want to be one them, I would suggest creating a plan and hiring an elite group of professionals to help keep you on track ASAP.

Read more advice from Taylor Schulte »


Scott Hanson, CFP
Financial Advisor and Co-Founder, Hanson McClain Advisors

First, make no major investment decisions for six months. Park the cash in Treasury bills or a money market account, and allow some time to pass before the money is invested. There are simply too many emotions running through one's head to make well-informed decisions.

Second, allocate your winnings into several different baskets. For example, one basket might be for all of the friends and relatives coming to you to "invest" in their various business projects. Another basket might be to fund a charitable trust or foundation.

Third, don't hire a friend as your financial adviser. Rather, find the three best advisers in your region, and interview all three. Pick the one that you can connect well with best, and the one who can help you sort out what this money might mean to you; don't just pick the adviser who promises the highest returns.

Read more advice from Scott Hanson »


Pete Woodring, RIA
Founding Partner, Cypress Partners

If you want to gain the most utility from your wishful gambling ticket(s), buy it (them) sooner rather than later. The odds of winning are 1 in 292 million, so the most satisfaction you’ll likely get from the exercise is dreaming about what you would do with such a massive financial windfall. You might as well give yourself the maximum amount of time to dream, so buy early.

Fortunate lottery winners aren't always so fortunate. Massive financial windfalls often tear families apart and/or leave winners in massive debt. You might wonder how someone worth so much could accumulate debt, but it's fairly common when someone chooses the annuity payout option (steady stream of income for a certain number of years). Euphoric winners often end up spending more than their annual payout check and accumulate insurmountable amounts of debt.

The other option is to take a lump-sum payout, but this has its own set of challenges. They include the ability to manage such a large amount of wealth and to avoid some of the common pitfalls: wild spending, investment scams, overextending on real estate and giving to friends and family to name a few. Whether or not the lump-sum option is better than the annuity option will depend on the projected return someone could realistically achieve.

Money can do strange things to people and if winners don't value and respect it along with a long-term plan to manage it, the endgame can be devastating. Whether $1 million or $1.4 billion, the winning formula will be a prudent investment and financial plan lead by a team of trusted advisers.

Read more advice from Pete Woodring »


Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®
CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

Read this brochure from the Credit Union National Assn., to which I contributed some financial advice. It deals with issues of receiving a sudden windfall of money.

Read more advice from Rita Cheng »

See Also: 3 Better Investments Than Powerball Tickets