Lotto winner sues state

When a New Hampshire woman won the January $560 million jackpot, she did what most people would do: Immediately signing her lottery ticket, a decision she now regrets as she is seeking to preserve her privacy.

She has filed a lawsuit agains the state to keep her identity secret, but the state said it is too late. The law is the law and all jackpot winners will be made public if the ticket has been signed.

What can you do if you win the lottery and want to stay anonymous? Experts say before you sign your ticket and commit your identity to public record, you should form a team of a trust and estate attorney, a good accounting and a financial planner. You would then create a public trust and that would allow access to the money by becoming the executor of the trust. Your attorney would become the public face, shielding you identity.

Michigan lottery officials said that if you buy your ticket online, you may not be able to use the trust option because they already know your name and you are already registered with the lottery site. If you want to stay anonymous, buy a paper ticket.

One more thing: Keep your mouth shut. Making verbal promises to friends and neighbors can come back and hunt you or could land you in court and expose your identity.

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