Mark Roman | December 7, 2021 | Florida LAw
Florida’s lottery regulations require all lottery winners to reveal their name and city of residence. The Florida Lottery can also reveal the game, date, and amount you won to any party, including media outlets.
But this does not mean you need to reveal your name and city of residence. Florida allows entities to claim lottery prizes. If your entity claims your prize, the Florida Lottery only requires the entity name and location.
Here is some information about the information required by Florida from lottery winners.
Anonymous Lottery Winners
Some states, such as Ohio and South Carolina, allow lottery winners to claim prizes anonymously. More specifically, lottery winners in these states must identify themselves to the state lottery commission to claim their prize. However, they can ask the state lottery commission to keep their identities secret.
Florida does not keep lottery winners’ names secret. Florida Lottery rules allow any person to request a winner’s name and city of residence. Even if you avoid publication of your name and city in the press, any member of the public can still find out your identifying information.
The Risks of Public Disclosure for Lottery Winners
Unscrupulous people target lottery winners. Lottery winners often become subjects of:
Lottery winners get approached by phony financial advisors trying to steal their money. Desperate people stage slip and fall accidents in lottery winners’ homes and businesses to extort money from them. Lottery winners have even been targeted by hitmen hired by relatives.
Claiming Lottery Winnings Through an Entity
Although Florida does not allow you to claim winnings anonymously, it does allow you to claim your winnings through an entity. For most purposes, Florida law treats entities like people.
The Florida Lottery provides an entity form to claim winnings as a:
- Non-profit organization
One local news program in Florida called this a “legal loophole” to avoid publicity. But you have probably used this legal tool many times in your life without realizing it.
Suppose that you owe your friends $20 for groceries they bought for you. Your cousin owes you $20 for gas after a road trip you took together. You ask your cousin to pay the gas money to your friends.
The same principle applies here. Suppose that you want to form an entity to manage your lottery winnings. You have two choices for putting the winnings into the entity:
- The Florida Lottery awards the prize to you, then you deposit the money into the entity
- You cut out the middleman and have the Florida Lottery award the prize to the entity
In either case, your entity ends up with the money. But in the first case, the Florida Lottery rules require you to disclose your name and city of residence.
In the second case, the Florida Lottery only knows the entity’s name and location. As a result, you have effectively claimed the lottery prize “anonymously.”
Forming an Entity
Florida gives you many options for claiming lottery winnings through an entity. But most of them create a paper trail that can lead to your name.
For example, most banks require limited liability companies (LLCs) to disclose at least one member’s name to open a bank account. Similarly, corporations must usually disclose the names of the officers authorized to take action on their behalf.
A trust divides ownership of the lottery winnings between a legal owner and a beneficial owner. The trustee holds the property on behalf of the beneficiaries. The trustee must follow the trust document when paying the beneficiaries.
In the case of lottery winners, the only name on the prize form is the trust’s name and the trustee. Your lawyer or bank can act as the trustee, ensuring that your identity remains private. A trust can also help you manage your money by shielding it from scammers and criminals.
If you win the lottery and desire to create an entity to manage your winnings, you should consider seeking legal representation.
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