What Happens When you Win the Lottery?
It’s something that we’ve all dreamed off, right?
Winning several million on the lottery and then spending that money in our heads as fast as possible buying cars, houses, holidays, and gadgets. Some may be more frugal and decide to save or invest, but either way, at some point the majority of us have thought about how winning the lottery is going to change our lives.
The key point to note is that it is very much life-changing – but not necessarily for the better. For most the money will enhance their life but then there are those that struggle with new found riches. Money doesn’t always equal happiness.
The process of winning can be quite overwhelming in itself, and there is a lot of emotion that is going to be coursing through you. There’s also a lot of confusion as to what needs to be done and when, but really, the process is quite simple.
Here’s our guide on what to do and how the process will work.
So You’ve Won The Lottery…
1. Don’t Panic
You’ve checked off your numbers and they all match up. You have the 6 winning numbers and the bonus ball, you’re certain. You’ve checked, checked again and then checked a third time. They match!
The first thing to remember is not to panic at this point. There’s going to be a lot going on over the next few days and it can all get a little too much for some people.
You need to remain calm and assess the situation. We also suggest that at first you don’t tell anybody who isn’t either your partner if you have one, or people that you can trust not to gossip. At the minute you’ve a piece of paper with some numbers on it, you’ve not been awarded any cash. Also, you won’t get another chance to decide if you want to remain anonymous if word gets out, so it is imperative that you keep quiet at the start.
It’s worth noting that winners only have 180 days to claim their win from the time the draw was taken place. Some people have actually waited several weeks before getting in touch with Camelot just to let the whole circus die down a little and for the press to fall of the scent, so this is an option.
2. Call Camelot
Camelot is the company that is behind the National Lottery and they will be able to confirm if you have won or not. The number to reach them will be on the back of ticket.
If you have won over £50,000 then it will be they who will process your winnings. If you have won under this amount, then you can usually take it to the store where you bought the ticket and they can issue you a cheque. However, our advice would be to contact them regardless and check the process out, even if your win is less than £50,000; taking a £15,000 cheque from a small off-license in a slightly dodgy area might not be the smartest move ever. Word travels fast.
Once you are on the phone to Camelot you will need to confirm a few things. The first will obviously be the winning numbers on your ticket, but then you need to confirm some serial numbers that will also have been printed on your ticket as well.
By this point, Camelot will have been able to confirm whether you have won or not. They do this even though your ticket has not been validated yet, but they will need to see the ticket eventually. Assuming everything is fine, they will confirm your win and the total amount.
3. Protect the Ticket at all Costs
Camelot will then ask if you would like one of their Winners Advisors to come and visit you or if you would like to go in person to either their head office in Liverpool or Cardiff and bring the ticket to them. This can obviously take a day or two, given that most lotteries are won on a Saturday night.
It’s at this point that you now have a piece of paper that is worth millions. Until you hand over that ticket then the win cannot and will not be verified. It’s essential to keep it safe.
Many people invest in a solid safe to keep in their house just for the ticket. Lots of these are fire proof so if the worst happens, then you know the ticket will be safe. You can also make digital copies of the ticket for proof of winnings that you can send to Camelot before you have seen your advisor.
Alternatively, you can jump straight in your car and drive down to Camelot to make sure they have it as soon as humanely possible.
Each option comes with its own risks and some are more plausible than others, so it’s important to choose wisely here. It’s likely you are going to have the ticket for at least 24 hours before you hand it over, so make sure you know where the ticket is at all times.
4. Await a Visit from Camelot
A Winners Advisor from Camelot will confirm the ticket. As stated, most winners wait for them to come to their house, but some do visit the head office. There are a number of things you will need when the advisor visits to confirm both the ticket and who you say you are.
- 2 forms of ID
- Completion of required forms on their part
- Validation of the ticket
Once they have gone through this, the ticket is validated and the money is now yours. It’s unlikely that you will actually have the money just yet though.
The advisor plays a big role in how you go about the next steps in the process. The hard part is now done, the winnings have been confirmed, on to the next step.
5. Open a Private Bank Account
One of the things the advisors encourage is opening a private bank account for the money to be transferred across. These accounts aren’t publicised by most high street banks and are kept strictly for people who are very wealthy and some are even set up especially for lottery winners.
The advisor will then talk through the pros and cons of each account. They differ from normal accounts as they offer higher rates of interest on your money than say a normal checking account would. It also means that the number doesn’t cause alarm at your current bank, putting it in a dedicated specialist bank account will avoid any flagging issues.
It’s worth noting that only certain parts of the bank have access to these accounts, with confidentially being of the highest priority – ideal for those wishing to remain anonymous.
6. Receive Your Money
Once the bank account has been opened or plans have been put in place for where the money needs to go, the transaction only takes a couple of days to complete.
If people are wanting their money sooner then Camelot have been known to pay a percentage of the money immediately, but most of them tend to wait until it’s all moved across in one lump sum.
Once the money is paid, you are officially a lottery winner and a millionaire. The money is yours to do with as you please.
Life After Wealth
It’s worth emphasising that Camelot play a bigger role than simply just checking the ticket and sending the money. They help people manage their lives during a time that is going to drastically change every day living for most people. They put winners into contact with people who can help them keep their money safe, and try to make that money last as long as possible.
In no particular order, here is a look at things that winners need to consider and also things that Camelot can help them with.
One of the biggest dilemmas for many lottery winners is whether or not to go public. For some it may be a rags to riches story, so if they go from renting on a council estate to owning a 10-bedroom mansion, then it’s going to be pretty obvious to those that know them that they have come into money. However, for those that are already well off, the additional money might be easier to hide.
It’s reported that just 10-15% of winners go public with their win. They state that living with the money and not being able to tell people is harder than just being honest. If someone does decide to tell the world than standard protocol is to remove themselves from things like the phone book and possibly even changing address – although if it is a large win buying a new house is one of the first things people think of doing anyway. For those that want to stay anonymous moving house can be tricky without giving the game away, but it is doable.
The level of difficulty involved all depends on the amount that has been won and the impact you allow it to have on your life. Camelot offer a lot of advice on staying anonymous throughout the process, such as no sudden big purchases and no huge changes in lifestyle. Come to think of it, the guidelines are very similar to getting away with robbing a bank!
Tax and Legal
Lottery winnings in the UK are tax free. This means that you won’t pay a penny on your winnings in regard to either UK Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax.
That being said, any interest that you make off the money sitting in your account will be taxed. Tax rates start at 20% and then this number can rise based on the amount of interest that starts to accrue. For example, the biggest National Lottery win is £161 million. The interest that amount of money would generate at an interest rate of 3% would be £4.83 million per year, which would be tax deductible and at the highest tax rate of 45% too.
Camelot also have a long line of legal advisers who can come in to help with any large wins. They will talk through things like where to invest if that’s of interest, what to do with the cash, how passing cash on to family members works (taxable), and go through all the things that you would need to know to not only keep the money for as long as possible, but also make that money work for you.
Advice for Winners
Congratulations, you are now a millionaire. The world is your oyster: you can go on holidays, buy a fancy new car, upgrade from a 3 bed semi to a 7 bed estate with acre’s of land and even house staff if you’d like. Enjoy it, sure.
But whilst there are lots of great things in a winner’s life that are going to change in a short space of time, there are also things that they really should do aside from enjoying the money to ensure that they are set for life.
Making smart decisions now instead of squandering your cash could even set up your family for generations to come.
Your grandchildren will thank you if you are savvy with your money.
Talk to Other Winners
This is actually something that Camelot are able to set up. Talking with other people that are in or have been in the same boat as you is where you can find some of the best advice. Whilst there are plenty of people who have a lot of money the majority of them have built their wealth over many years, there are very few indeed that become multi-millionaires overnight. This puts you and them in a unique situation.
Other people that have won are probably the only people on the planet that can truely relate to what’s going on in your life. Yes, the advisors from Camelot can be a great help, but they are only advising based on research and haven’t lived through the change themselves. Other lottery winners know the process and they know how to deal with it (hopefully).
It’s these people that are going to be able to tell other winners what does and doesn’t work from their own experience. This could be anything from good investments to make, who to tell about the win, what to avoid, and everything in between.
Create Jobs for your Money
Budgeting is one of the most important things for any lottery winner. Yes, the winner will now have multi-millions in their account, so they won’t need to budget for the weekly shop or their morning coffee from Starbucks; but things like big purchases such as houses, cars, holidays, and whatever else, should all be budgeted for.
By breaking it down into categories that you want to spend your money on, you can make the overall process and the sheer amount of money available to you more mentally manageable. Otherwise you could end up blowing a lot more of your win than you intended and find yourself counting pennies again.
This is not an easy thing to do and definitely something that a financial advisor is going to be able to help with.
There are always going to be people who need your money more than you. This is a personal choice obviously, but for us it is now more important than ever to help those that need it the most. This doesn’t necessarily have to be charitable donations, it can be giving your time to help good causes – after all, you don’t need to be up for work anymore. All of that money is great for creating time for people.
Alternatively, you can give to charities. Certain charities will be close to people’s hearts and it feels good to help them out. Many winners have gone on to set up charities of their own that have gone on to be massively successful; Colin and Christine Weir, the UK’s biggest Lottery winners, set up their own foundation that helps people in their local community, investing millions to help others.
You can also give to friends and family members as well. Again, not necessarily cash straight up, but paying off someone’s mortgage or paying for a big group holiday means that you can improve the lives of the people closest to you without simply doling out handouts.
Learn to Say No
This is an important lesson to learn for any winner: you are going to be asked for favours, and sometimes you have to say no to people.
If someone has chosen to remain anonymous then this is less of a problem because fewer people will be aware of your new found wealth, but if a winner has gone public then there will be people crawling out of the woodwork left, right, and centre asking for handouts.
Many of these may be legitimate hardship cases and you might be willing and wanting to help them, but others will be less so and this is where you need to say no. The amount of money you are being asked for might not even be all that significant, but if you start to give to those who weren’t part of your life prior to the win, then where does the cycle end?
Don’t Give up Your Job Immediately
This may seem odd to say because most people think of lottery winners sitting on a beach all year round sipping cocktails, but Camelot actually state that most people don’t quit their jobs immediately and they actually recommend winners to not take this decision lightly.
One of the reasons behind this is that it can be good to keep a sense of normality in your life given the massive adjustment that is going to be taking place. Keeping a job, especially one that someone actually enjoys, can normalise the situation somewhat, which makes integrating the money much easier than it might otherwise be if you were sat at home thinking about it all day. Everyone needs a purpose.
For most winners will eventually leave their jobs though once they have decided what they are going to go on to do. Some retire and some see it as a gateway to learning a new skill or doing a dream job that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to pursue. The key is not to rush this decision and to find a happy balance between doing nothing and doing something.