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What to do if you win the Powerball jackpot

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DENVER -- So, you've just won an unthinkable amount of money in a $1.4 billion Powerball drawing. You've screamed and yelled and jumped up and down. You beat the 1-in-292 million odds. Now what do you do?

Some experts on the topic of financial windfalls have some advice that appeared in Time magazine.

Sign the back of the winning ticket

Do this first because if you don’t establish ownership, anyone can claim your prize if they happen to get a hold of your ticket before you sign it. The winning ticket is a bearer instrument. That means the lottery pays the person who presents it with a signature and valid photo identification, according to Van Denton, a spokesman for the North Carolina Education Lottery.

Find a safe place to keep the ticket

A safe deposit box is a good idea. It's much more secure than your car or someplace inside your home.

Get a lawyer and a financial adviser

The smart thing to do with when a windfall of a large sum of money comes your way is to consult with legal and financial experts who know how to handle sudden windfalls like inheritances or lottery winnings. Jeff Holyfield with the Michigan Lottery suggests anyone who wins a big jackpot should consider taking their time and doing some research before claiming their prize.

Keep a low profile

Standard advice is to avoid announcing you're a winner before the prize is claimed. It would be tempting to blast the news on social media, but you might be better off not doing that. You'll automatically become a magnet for people asking for money. You can remain anonymous in some states even when claiming the grand prize. In Colorado, you can maintain anonymity if you claim the prize through a trust. Wealth management experts can help you handling requests for money whether they come from charities or family members and friends.

Get information from the state lottery office

Most state lotteries will work with jackpot winners on payment options and even speaking at news conferences.

Once your ducks are all in a row, then you'll be on your way to enjoying the life-changing windfall you just won.

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