Tonight's upcoming billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot has folks from Massachusetts to California daydreaming of a record-breaking payout. But what happens if you actually win? And what if you want to remain anonymous?

We always see these photos posted online when a Massachusetts resident takes home a substantial prize, which to me sounds like a nightmare. I would never want anyone besides close friends and family to know if I won a major lottery prize.

Do Massachusetts Residents Have to Publicly Claim Lottery Prizes?

Unfortunately, according to Mass Lotto, regulations state that a claimant's name, city or town, image, amount of prize, claim date and game are public records. Therefore, photographs may be taken and used to publicize winnings. In fact, there are only 11 states that currently allow lottery winners to stay anonymous and those are Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas. But there is a loophole.

How Can Massachusetts Residents Claim Lottery Prizes Anonymously?

The answer itself is pretty simple, just requires some extra steps. In order to remain anonymous while claiming a Mass Lotto prize, a person must claim the prize via a trust. According to SKB Attorneys, you can contact a lawyer (in fact there are "lottery lawyers" that specialize in this field) and create trust. Basically, the lottery will publicize the name of that trust and the person that claims the prize on behalf of the trust, not the names of any individuals involved in it.

Massachusetts allows lottery winners to claim their winnings in the name of a trust. Because the trustee of a trust is the legal titleholder to property in the trust, for the benefit of the true winner, lottery winners can hire a trustee to claim the prize for them, thus keeping their identity a secret.

This might seem like some extra footwork, but to keep your finances private it might be worth it.

The popularity of claiming via a trust is increasing according to Massachusetts Lottery data. in 2010 trust claims were filed for nine of 332 grand prizes which is about 2.7%. In 2017, trusts accounted for 43 of the 422 grand prizes, 10.2% and through April of  2019, 17 of 135 grand prizes were claimed by trusts, which calculates to about 12.6 percent.

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