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Hiring a Lawyer to Manage Lottery Winnings

Why Your First Call After Winning the Lottery Should Be to Hire a Good Lawyer

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If you win the lottery, you might think your biggest decision will be what you should buy first. But the truth is, you’ll need help to keep as much of that money as possible to spend down the road. And the first step to getting that help is hiring a lottery lawyer.

What Is a Lottery Lawyer?

Big lottery winners may feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions they have to make before they even claim a jackpot. To make things even more confusing, each state that participates in the lottery has its own procedures for claiming a prize and for minimizing tax liability. That’s why a lawyer’s help really comes in handy.

A lottery lawyer is part of the advisory team that winners should put together to help them wade through the legalities of claiming a prize without making costly mistakes. A good lottery lawyer can protect jackpot winners, their families, and their hard-won cash.

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer who brands themselves as a lottery lawyer, but you do want someone who has experience managing large windfalls. Good lottery lawyers have experience with taxes, estate planning, setting up trusts, and protecting assets.

What Lottery Lawyers Do for Jackpot Winners

If you’ve just won a bundle of cash, you might balk at giving a big chunk of it to a lawyer right off the bat. However, hiring a good lawyer really pays off in the long run. Here are some examples of what lottery lawyers do for jackpot winners:

Protecting Anonymity

When you win the lottery, you want to keep the news as private as possible to avoid being the target of lawsuits, scams, and straight-out begging for cash. But keeping the word from spreading isn’t a simple task. Some states let lottery winners claim their prizes anonymously. Others don’t, but let winners claim in the name of a business, which can reduce the publicity they have to deal with. A good lottery lawyer can help winners protect their anonymity as much as possible.

Another option many lottery winners choose is to set up a trust to claim the prize. In many cases, setting up a trust not only helps protect the winner’s identity, but also prevents the winner from spending too much too quickly while fending off requests for handouts and donations. A lottery lawyer can help determine whether a trust is beneficial for the winner and if so, can help set it up.

Putting Together a Trustworthy Advisory Team

The lottery lawyer isn’t the only important team member that a new jackpot winner needs. An accountant and a financial advisor with experience in helping people deal with large windfalls are also very helpful. A lottery lawyer can help winners pick the other members of their advisory team.

Advising About Payout Options

New lottery winners need to make the decision whether to take a lump sum or an annuity payout. A lottery winner can keep them apprised about the legal and financial ramifications of their choice. Because they know the winner’s exact financial status, they can give better advice than the winner would receive by reading articles online.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

An experienced lottery lawyer knows the pitfalls that inexperienced lottery winners can face. Lawyers can help their clients decide the best time to claim a prize and advise them how to keep their tickets safe until then, avoid overspending, manage their safety, and more. If you don’t want to become a lottery curse victim, a lottery lawyer is a valuable ally who can help you create a strategy to manage your wealth safely.

Quashing Frivolous Lawsuits

Unfortunately, lottery winners can become targets for people who want to scam their way into some of their money. Frivolous lawsuits are one of the ways that unscrupulous people try to worm their way into unearned cash.

A lottery lawyer will not only defend winners from these lawsuits, but they also can anticipate the ways that winners are vulnerable and help them to avoid becoming targets.

How to Hire a Lottery Lawyer

Winners spend a lot of time with their financial team, so it’s important to find someone they trust and feel comfortable with. And of course, the lawyer should be familiar with the unique problems lottery winners face.

It’s not a decision that any winner should make lightly. In 2020, self-branded lottery lawyer Jason Kurland was indicted for defrauding his clients of over $100 million.   You don’t want to trust an unscrupulous person with your winnings.

Some of the things to consider when hiring a lottery lawyer include:

Experience

A good lottery lawyer knows the ins and outs of lottery law and has represented other big winners and people who have received unexpected financial windfalls. They should have proven experience with tax law, trust planning, asset protection, and other financial considerations in your specific statet.

Price

Even jackpot winners need to be careful not to overspend on legal fees. A more expensive lawyer isn’t necessarily a better lawyer, and a good lottery lawyer shouldn’t offer to take a percentage of your winnings. Instead, you should settle on a reasonable hourly fee or retainer. The Laffey Matrix is one way to get ballpark figures for how much it costs to hire a lawyer.

Recommendations

Do some research to find out whether other clients have had good or bad experiences with any lawyers you are considering. If you don’t know anyone who has used them personally, an internet search might reveal compliments or complaints. There are also databases of respected lawyers that you can use, and you can ask any lawyers that you are considering hiring to give you references.

Clean Disciplinary Record

If a lawyer has had disciplinary action taken against him or her, you’ll want to know about it before you hire them. Luckily there are databases that let you check out the lawyers you are considering hiring so that you can look up disciplinary actions by state.

Personality

Don’t overlook your emotional reaction to any lottery lawyer you are considering hiring. You need to be able to trust the lawyer you hire and to feel good about working with them. Sometimes even very good lawyers just don’t mesh with your personality and vice versa, and that’s fine.

Once you know what you are looking for in a lottery lawyer, interview several different candidates to make sure you are finding the proper fit.

If you aren’t sure where to start your hiring process, reach out to your local Bar Association. They can help point you in the right direction.

When Should You Hire a Lottery Lawyer?

If you win a large prize in a lottery, getting a good lawyer should be a priority. You’ll want to have representation before you tell anyone outside of your immediate circle of family and trusted friends that you’ve won, and certainly before you claim your prize.

What's the first thing you should do when you win the lottery? Hire a lawyer! Here's what a lottery lawyer can do for you and how to hire one.

‘Lottery Lawyer’ Is Accused of Fleecing Winners in $107 Million Fraud

Prosecutors say the lawyer spent some of the stolen funds on a golf club membership, a Porsche and shopping sprees.

  • Aug. 18, 2020

He called himself the “Lottery Lawyer,” developing a national reputation for helping high-profile lottery winners with their investments.

He promised to secure their wealth for generations and to protect them from scam artists.

But on Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused the lawyer, Jason M. Kurland, of working with a mob associate to steal millions of dollars from his clients.

Mr. Kurland, 46, was arrested on Tuesday morning at his home on Long Island alongside three other men — including Christopher Chierchio, 52, who prosecutors said was a reputed soldier for the Genovese crime family.

As part of the scheme, Mr. Kurland tricked three lottery winners who had hired him into putting $107 million into various investments, prosecutors said. The lottery winners lost a total of more than $80 million.

After persuading the lottery winners to invest, the four men then spent some of the funds on golf club memberships, yachts, private jets, a Porsche and other luxury cars and shopping sprees at stores like Fendi, prosecutors said.

“Lottery winners can’t believe their luck when they win millions of dollars, and the men we arrested this morning allegedly used that euphoric feeling to their advantage,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the F.B.I.’s New York office.

Mr. Kurland and his alleged co-conspirators face several counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. They each pleaded not guilty at their arraignments on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Mr. Kurland declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr. Chierchio said his client was not affiliated with the mafia and expected to be cleared of the charges.

Law enforcement officials had been wiretapping the men’s phone calls for months, including conversations in which they discussed whether they might go to jail.

The lottery winners paid between $75,000 and $200,000 in upfront payments to hire Mr. Kurland and his law firm, according to court papers. Mr. Kurland then charged monthly fees of between $15,000 and $50,000.

A spokeswoman for Rivkin Radler, the law firm where Mr. Kurland has worked since 2018, said the firm was cooperating with the authorities and planned to remove him as a partner.

In a 2016 interview with Vice, Mr. Kurland discussed the prevalence of scams targeting lottery winners. “A lot of these winners are not sophisticated enough to see it,” he said, “so you really have to rely on the professionals.”

On Mr. Kurland’s Twitter account, he often urged lottery winners around the country to hire him, using hashtags like #callme. In previous interviews, he said he has represented lottery winners since 2011, specializing in navigating the laws around real estate and trusts.

Behind the scenes, prosecutors said, Mr. Kurland was getting kickbacks for steering lottery winners to invest in business deals controlled by Mr. Chierchio and the two other defendants, Frangesco Russo, 38, and Francis Smookler, 45.

Some of the deals involved companies that sold personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic to the state of California and to the New York Police Department, court papers showed.

During a phone call last month that was intercepted by law enforcement, Mr. Kurland told an associate that the growing coronavirus outbreak in Florida would bode well for business. “The worse it is the better,” he said, according to prosecutors.

The men directed some of the lottery winners’ money to a jeweler named Gregory Altieri, who had promised sky-high returns to his investors. Last month, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused him of defrauding his investors in a $200 million Ponzi scheme.

Earlier this year, when Mr. Altieri failed to repay a loan, Mr. Russo and Mr. Smookler threatened to torture him and shoot his family, prosecutors said.

Mr. Russo’s father was a Colombo crime family captain who died while serving a life sentence in prison for murder, and he mentioned his father while threatening Mr. Altieri, prosecutors said.

A lawyer for Mr. Russo did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Smookler’s lawyer had no immediate comment.

Law enforcement officials are seeking to recover any stolen funds by seizing 13 bank accounts associated with the scheme, which had been going on since at least 2018.

In one instance, Mr. Kurland transferred $19.5 million out of a client’s account without the client’s permission and funneled much of it to Mr. Chierchio, prosecutors said.

In 2004, Mr. Chierchio pleaded guilty in a state case in Brooklyn to falsifying business records. Last year, he was acquitted at trial on bid-rigging charges.

Prosecutors said Mr. Chierchio lived in a $11,000-a-month luxury building in Manhattan and purports to run a plumbing business.

In a call last month that was intercepted by law enforcement, Mr. Chierchio brushed off an associate’s concerns about a federal investigation into the lottery scheme, saying he had been pursued by the authorities his entire life.

“So bring the F.B.I. Who cares?” Mr. Chierchio said, according to prosecutors. “It doesn’t matter. I laugh at them. OK? I laugh at them.”

In phone calls, Mr. Kurland discussed with his associates how to cover up the scheme, worried they were “playing with fire,” according to court papers. The men wondered if giving the money back to the lottery winners would thwart the investigation or if they could make the theft look like legitimate business transactions, prosecutors said.

At one point, according to court papers, Mr. Smookler and Mr. Russo predicted that they might face fraud charges; Mr. Smookler said on a phone call that he hoped to merely face a fine and not go to jail.

“We are in a little bit of a pickle,” he said.

Prosecutors say the lawyer spent some of the stolen funds on a golf club membership, a Porsche and shopping sprees. ]]>