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Here's what you should do if you win the lottery: Legally Speaking

3News legal analyst Stephanie Haney breaks down why it's a good idea to keep winning a big lottery prize a secret, and how to do it with the help of a lawyer
Credit: wkyc studios
3News legal analyst Stephanie Haney breaks down why it's a good idea to keep winning a big lottery prize a secret, and how to do it with the help of a lawyer.

CLEVELAND — Legal analysis: Did you know that if you win the lottery, being able to claim your prize anonymously is the exception, and not the rule? 

Ohio, however, is one of the few states where lottery winners can remain anonymous. 

And legally speaking, keeping your name a secret when you win a big jackpot is exactly what you should do, not only for privacy, but also for safety reasons. 

If you’re constantly being hassled for handouts, or if you don’t feel safe, winning all of that money won’t be worth it. 

In Ohio, lottery winners have 180 days to claim their prizes, so during that time, it’s a good idea to set up a blind trust, with the help of a lawyer.

There are different kinds of blind trusts. When it comes to lottery winnings, it means the public doesn’t get to know who created it, and the person who created it gets to keep control of it. 

If you win big, jackpot prizes have to be claimed in an Ohio Lottery Regional office. If you set up a blind trust, a lawyer can help you with that, so you can keep your winnings a secret.  

And the Ohio Lottery’s Danielle Frizzi Babb tells me, you can expect to get paid fast, typically around 30 days after you file your winning claim.

Just make sure, no matter what, you hang on to that original winning ticket, or you won’t be getting paid anything, anywhere, under any circumstances. 

A word of warning though... if you’re a traveler who likes to play the lottery, you need to know that the law follows the ticket, not the winner, so the rules where you bought the ticket are the ones that matter. 

That means if you live in Ohio, for example, but you buy a winning ticket in California, under California law you would have to reveal your identity to get your money. 

So keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether losing your privacy is too big of a price to pay for the chance to win big in the lottery. 

Stephanie Haney is licensed to practice law in both Ohio and California.

The information in this article is provided for general informational purposes only. None of the information in this article is offered, nor should it be construed, as legal advice on any matter.

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