Do you have lotto fever? Tuesday night's Mega Million lottery jackpot climbed to $636 million. If you play Powerball or Mega Millions in an office lottery pool, you should be forewarned. If you are lucky enough to win, you may be unlucky in litigation. Many office lottery pools end up in litigation because they are not structured correctly.
While playing in an office lottery pool can be fun and exciting for a group of co-workers . . . the feelings of camaraderie and excitement often turn to anger and lawsuits after a big win. The most common disputes? Someone will claim that they personally purchased the winning ticket and that it was not part of the office pool or someone who has played in the past didn't the week of the win but feels they should have still been included. When there is a dispute, the money can be tied up for months or years while the issues get resolved.
The good news is that if you win the lottery in an office pool, it doesn't have to end like this. Here are five simple steps you can take with your office lottery pool to avoid most of these issues:
1. Name a leader. Name a leader who will be in charge of the lottery pool and who is responsible for buying the tickets, making copies, etc.
2. Create a contract. Create a simple contract that spells out the big issues (e.g., who is playing, how often, how much, whether you will take the lump-sum or an annuity, whether you will let the computer choose the numbers or if someone will choose the numbers, etc.) that all participants sign.
3. Make it public. Make a public list of who has signed the contract and who is participating so there is no uncertainty about who is involved and who isn't.
4. Make copies of tickets. Make copies of the tickets before each drawing and give them to each participant to avoid the "I bought this ticket with my own money" excuse.
5. Keep the tickets safe. Keep the original tickets in a safe but accessible place.
Stick to these tips if you play an office lottery pool so you can avoid the drama and high costs of litigation if you win. And if you win the cash option, do your best to avoid these six sudden wealth mistakes!