It’s a dream that we all secretly (or not so secretly) have: one day we’ll find out that we won the billion dollar jackpot. While it’s easy to dream about all of the exotic vacations and expensive shoes that your winnings could buy you, what people think less about is some of the best practices involved if you actually do win. We’ve compiled a list of advice from the experts on what to do if you ever win the lottery.

Anonymity is Everything

Surprisingly enough you can’t keep your identity to yourself in all states if you win the lottery, check out the states you can stay anonymous while claiming the grand prize. Why is it important to stay anonymous, you ask? Because after people come into a great deal of money, distant “friends”, old high school acquaintances, a relative twice removed and even complete strangers start coming out of the woodwork trying to become your new best friend to get a part of your fortune.

Even if your state does not fully allow you to anonymously claim the money, it’s best to try and keep your identity hidden and hide your face as much as possible from any press outlet. Give as little information about yourself as you can.

Lottery tickets and money

Bring in the Professionals

Winning the lottery isn’t as easy as digitally depositing a check into your bank account like some paycheck. More than likely, you’re actually going to need a team of experts on how to guide you through the process. Protect your assets while investing your money to make it last take a lot of skill.

Claim the Lump Sum

First and foremost, if you win the lottery, you have the option of taking a lump sum up front or being paid out an annuity—meaning a yearly payment over time. But which is the best option to take? The majority of tax and finance experts agree that it’s better to choose the lump sum up front even though it’s a lower nominal amount. If you take all of the money up front and invest it right away, the compound interest you’ll gain over time will far outpace that of taking the annuity.

Go Off the Grid

Fade out as soon as possible, once you have the press out of the way and the money safely tucked away with a trusted financial advisor. People find lotto winners fascinating, and some enthusiastic individuals will be looking into as much information about you as possible. Now is a good time to remove your address and phone number from public searches, change what contact details you can, and lay low for a good amount of time. Maybe take an international extended trip overseas while you wait for the excitement about your win to die down.

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