Winning a huge sum of money on the lottery may sound like a dream, but experts warn a sudden windfall could create problems of its own, at least in the short term, as the lucky beneficiaries get to grips with their new fortune.
Once winners know they have a winning ticket, Camelot – the parent company of the lottery – provides them with a dedicated winner’s adviser.
This adviser stays with them throughout the process, sometimes up to decades after the win, and access to a panel of specialist advisers who help navigate their new life and wealth.
This support is critical, experts say, to make sure that overnight millionaires such as the married couple from Gloucestershire who won the £184million Euro Millions jackpot this month are not overwhelmed or fall victim to financial scams.
Sudden Wealth Syndrome: Winners are protected as much as possible from making poor decisions – pictured, new multi-millionaires Joe and Jess Thwaite
‘They really put their arms around you,’ says Alex Price, director of financial planning at Charles Stanley and has served as one of the specialist financial advisers Camelot calls on to support winners.
‘My first recommendation is always to breath, take some time and don’t make any large decisions for several weeks.’
These first steps when you win big can be crucial and a number of measures are undertaken to help while the life-changing win is digested.
Private banks and NS&I
Once the winning ticket is validated Camelot helps you set up a new bank account, usually with a private bank that is equipped to handle such large sums of money.
Currently the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects deposits up to £85,000 per person – or £170,000 per couple – for each banking licence. This can help spread money around in bank accounts and savings.
The FSCS also provides a temporary high balance protection for six months up to £1million to protect anyone who may have a short term high deposit.
For an unusually large win, experts say NS&I government’s savings bank is a good spot, advising that across different accounts a couple could deposit up to £8,340,000 with 100 per cent protection.
For example, its direct saver paying 0.5 per cent accepts deposits up to £2million per person.
However, for that recent mega win, it would leave just under £176million unprotected – and that’s where an adviser steps in, recommending diverse assets to help spread the risk.
After a significant windfall people are likely to be inundated with requests for money from friends and family, as well as strangers with ‘begging’ letters for cash.
Choosing whether or not you want to remain anonymous will be one of the first decisions you have to make after claiming your fortune, and will likely determine other aspects of how you approach your winnings.
But in some circumstances your options may be more limited.
‘You’re never going to be able to hide £184million,’ says Price. ‘You can hide a few million, but that is a life changing amount of money for you and for everyone you know.
‘As well as the amazing lifestyle these funds will provide they can also bring several problems, opportunists will come knocking on your door, the begging letters will arrive in their thousands, long lost friends will make contact out of the blue.
‘You have to surround yourself with people you trust.’
Avoiding Sudden Wealth Syndrome
Will you win the Euromillions?
- When you enter the EuroMillions you have a 1 in 13 chance of winning a prize
- Your odds of winning the EuroMillions jackpot is 1 in 139,838,160
- Since 2004 over a fifth of jackpot winners have been from the UK
- France has the biggest number of jackpot winners with over a quarter of the total since 2004.
A significant win can be an emotional rollercoaster.
‘Sudden Wealth Syndrome’, coined by psychologist Stephen Goldbart, is the collective name given to the psychological issues that are associated with new or sudden wealth.
The Money, Meaning & Choices Institute, where Goldbart works, says that those who suffering from the affliction often experiences increased anxiety and insomnia.
On top of that, they can have feelings of confusion and guilt about their fortune. It can cause people to make decisions they wouldn’t otherwise have made and adopt self-destructive behaviours.
To cushion the sudden transition Camelot’s adviser guides lucky winners through what they can expect in the weeks and months after their windfall, and works with them to assess their needs across all areas including personal security.
Once the win is validated, the lottery company may move winners out of their homes for a week or so while they take some time to figure out their next steps.
The first advice from the lottery company is always to encourage winners to take some time to process their win and become comfortable with their wealth.
The adviser is on hand to provide overall guidance as well as access to Camelot’s network of independent and trusted advisers.
These specialists cover a whole range of areas, including life coaching and mental health support.
How the winners then continue the relationship with these recommended specialists is up to them.
Then on to what to do with the money.
One of the first decisions you need to make, says Price, is updating or writing your will, using a solicitor who specialises in high-net-worth clients.
Next you need to decide what you want to achieve with the wealth.
In contrast to a win of one or two million pounds, a win of hundreds of millions will provide financial security for the rest of your life for you, your children, grandchildren and many more generations to come.
Tax-efficient intergenerational planning is important, and your financial planner will not only be advising you, but should also be on hand to give advice to your family and any friends you may decide to make a large gift to.
Other considerations will include philanthropy and which causes you want to support, and what you want to achieve long term with the wealth.
For example, do you want to travel for six months of the year and what does your budget for that look like if you also want to secure your children’s futures?
For large sums like £184million, Alan Smith chief executive of Capital Asset Management suggests the use of a structures such as a family investment company, a bespoke vehicle that can serve as an alternative to a family trust, should considered.
These can provide valuable tax planning benefits as well as retaining control over assets and when they may be distributed.
What is important though, Camelot stresses, is that the money is there and it’s yours. There is no rush to decide what you want to do.
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