Is It Illegal to Remain Anonymous When You Win the Lottery in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts has a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to, well, pretty much everything and winning the lottery is no exception.
Slater and I have been discussing everything Mass Lottery lately after a fair amount of large prizes were won by local Berkshire County residents. One thing in particular that keeps coming up and is often a topic of debate between us, surrounds the anonymity of a Massachusetts lottery prize winner.
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 Massachusetts Lottery prize.
To me, it seems like nothing but trouble, but Slater doesn't think its a big deal. Obviously you would get the money into a safe account ASAP, but I feel like it puts a target on your back for anyone who might have ill intentions. Between a possible break-in at your home because someone might think you have some new luxurious purchases inside, or simply people bugging you to borrow money. In addition, lottery winners often become the target of online scams, or even "investors" trying to get you to put money into their great business idea. In my mind, money should be private and that means not announcing to the world, or even the state, when you've come into some.
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 record. 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 lop hole.
How Can Massachusetts Residents Claim Lottery Prizes Anonymously?
The answer itself is pretty simply, 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 a 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 year, 17 of 135 grand prizes were claimed by trusts, which calculates to about 12.6 percent.