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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27467
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hello Fran, I asked you a question awhile back...and you helped

Customer Question

Hello Fran, I asked you a question awhile back...and you helped me out...I have another one...I've won a lotto be precise...a scratch off lottery ticket for a lot of money...what should I do???
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

Assuming it's true, then you really have started off the new year in wonderful fashion.

We get a lot of customers here who are contacted by false emails, letters and phone calls announcing that they have won a lottery, contest or a sweepstake. So forgive me if I have to ask you some stupid questions but:

Are you sure that this is legitimate? (meaning that you or someone you know who picked this up for you, gave it to you and you scratched it off yourself and found that you were a winner?

Is this a NYS lottery ticket? If so, if it is under $600, you can take it to the any retail establishment that is licensed to sell NYS lottery tickets, and they will cash it for you. If it's large, and it sounds like it is, there ought to be instructions on the back of the ticket that you can follow. Otherwise, you would cash it at one of the NYS Lottery's regional customer service centers, or send it to the lottery center by mail. You can read about how to claim your prize at the NYS Lottery's website here. (see link)

If it's any other kind of a lottery, let me know.

Zoey_ JD and 3 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It is a nys lottery ticket...and yes I bought it from a newspaper/lotto store...and yes the prize is in the millions...and yes thank u very much it is a great start to the new years...and the rest of my life...I'm not sending it in...I'm going in person...but b4 I do...should I get a lawyer??? planner???...I want to make sure once I get the money that it goes somewhere secure...
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

How spectacular!!

I imagine you are mostly in shock. I know I'd be! For that matter, I am, and I didn't even win this. It's just thrilling to know of someone who actually did.

I think the biggest immediate issue with something like this is likely to be the publicity end of it. You're going to want to keep this as private as possible, I'm sure. But the state will have other plans. And at that point, you can expect all sorts of people to swoop in on you for all sorts of reasons. And most winners of these kinds of contests don't set themselves up wisely to protect themselves. They are exploited every which way, and they run through their winnings incredibly quickly.

So before the news hits the street, which is to say before you claim this, I would recommend that you look for an estate planner that you feel you can rely upon, who can set up an irrevocable trust that you can roll this right into, once you accept the check in the name of the trust, and in that way you protect you and your assets from your creditors and anyone else. The lawyer probably will know of, and you'll also probably need, a new accountant. Then, down the road, once you've got everything where you want it safe and sound, you can then look for a financial planner who can help plan the trusts' investments.

I'd wish you the best of luck, but darned if you don't already have it! Have a wonderful 2012.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
You wouldn't even believe how excited I am...never thought this would happen...but it did...I'm so the beginning of this year I wrote about my brother getting attested then being put in a mental I am writing to you about this...a complete reversal of brother is doing fine...he cleared all tests they gave him...and he moved to Florida...with family and from what I hear is doing yes things are great right one thing if you can help with this...I know from my experience last time with you that you cannot give me names but can you again point me in the direction of an estate planner...because I definitely don't know one...
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

I'm sure you're excited. Everybody who buys a lottery ticket thinks, "Maybe this will be the time," but I don't think we really believe it. I would be pinching myself so often to make sure I wasn't dreaming that I'd be black and blue.

We still cannot give direct referrals. I can only steer you to legitimate legal referral services who can make direct referrals. The New York State Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service charges around $35 as a referral fee. They prescreen their members and they will guarantee you a member of the NYS bar in good professional standing. The fee includes a free half hour consultation with the lawyer. If you want to try a commercial service, two very reputable ones are and