Are Lottery Winners Required To Reveal Their Identities in Florida?
Paul Brannon | November 16, 2022 | Florida Law
Several states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. Lottery winners in South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Delaware, Ohio, North Dakota, and Maryland can remain anonymous. Some states allow a lottery winner to form an entity or trust to claim the lottery prize. And others, like California, do not allow lottery winners to hide their identities in any way.
The issue of privacy for lottery winners is a contested subject. Some lawmakers argue that allowing lottery winners to remain anonymous could jeopardize the integrity of the lottery. On the other side, some lawmakers argue that protecting a winner’s privacy could prevent the winner from suffering physical, emotional, and financial harm.
Florida requires lottery winners to supply their name and city of residence. However, a new law that went into effect in May 2022 gives lottery winners a short window to get their affairs in order before their identities are revealed.
Temporary Exemption From Public Records for Lottery Winners in Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 159 into law after near-unanimous passage by state legislators. One state senator and one state representative opposed the bill.
The identities of Florida lottery players who win over $250,000 are now protected for 90 days. Only government entities can access the lottery winners’ names and other information during the 90 days. However, after 90 days, any third party can request information, including the winner’s name and city of residence, the amount won, the date won, and the game won.
Lottery winners can take steps to protect themselves from being targets after winning a large prize. For example, they can change their email address and cell phone numbers. In addition, they can shut down their social media profiles. Lottery winners might also want to avoid answering texts and calls from unknown numbers.
The 90-day exemption from public records allows lottery winners of $250,000 or more time to talk to financial advisers, lawyers, and other professionals. Financial and legal advice helps lottery winners avoid common pitfalls while protecting their safety and best interests.
Claiming Lottery Prizes Through an Entity in Florida
Lottery winners in Florida can claim their winnings through an entity. A corporation, trust, non-profit, partnership, or estate can claim lottery winnings. The 90-day exemption allows lottery winners time to set up an entity to protect their identities.
Because forming entities can have numerous tax, ownership, and other consequences, it is best to seek legal advice before forming an entity to claim a lottery prize. An attorney can advise you which entity offers the benefits you need to protect your identity while allowing you to use the lottery winnings as you desire.
What Are the Potential Risks of Public Disclosure of Lottery Winners?
Lottery winners could face numerous risks when their identities become public. There are many stories of lottery winners being killed for their money. Lottery winners could also become victims of burglaries, kidnapping, and assault.
Solicitations and scams are also common for lottery winners. Fraudulent or phony financial advisors approach lottery winners to steal their money. In addition, relatives, friends, and strangers solicit money for various reasons.
In some cases, lottery winners could be the target of individuals seeking to file a false personal injury claim. For example, someone might fake a slip and fall accident on the lottery winner’s property. Likewise, someone might set up the lottery winner to “cause” a car accident.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state for car accidents. However, if a person sustains a serious injury, they can sue the driver who caused the accident. Other personal injury cases are subject to tort laws allowing victims to sue for damages.
Even if you prove a person is faking their injuries or they caused their injury, you could incur substantial legal fees proving you are not liable for damages. On the other hand, if the person proves their case, you could be liable for their economic and non-economic damages. In either case, the stress of dealing with the problem overshadows the joy of winning the lottery.
What Should You Do if You Win a Large Lottery Prize in Florida?
Most individuals consider hiring a Destin personal injury lawyer if they are involved in an accident or other personal injury situation. However, lottery winners may not consider legal advice. They might be overwhelmed by their winnings and focus on going to the lottery headquarters to claim their prize as soon as possible.
If you win the lottery in Florida, consider seeking legal advice about your rights and options. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the better for you and your future. An attorney can help you retain experienced professionals who help you make the most of your lottery winnings.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Northwest Florida
We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547