Winning the lotto may not be the best thing that's ever happened to you.
Winning the lotto may not be the best thing that's ever happened to you.

How striking it rich can leave you broke

Chances are, the day after you and your mates strike it rich in a lottery, a blue over splitting the winnings will ensue.

And, according to insiders, if it's a workplace syndicate that finally sees all its Powerball or Gold Lotto numbers come up, the temptation for punters to actually sue each other becomes awfully powerful.

If persistence is the key to making it into the winners' circle - chipping in a fiver or more each week into a joint entry is the most cost-effective way to increase the odds.

According to The Lottery Office CEO, Jaclyn Wood, many syndicates are formed on verbal agreements that can be easily disputed if a team-member's greed gets the better of them.

"We've all heard of the horror stories where syndicate members try to run off with the winnings, or someone misses out on a share and disputes their claim in the courts," Ms Wood told Saved By Michelle.

WINNERS: Co-workers Kate Cullen, Susie Taylor and Jacks Cross with their lottery ticket. Picture: Peter Wallis
WINNERS: Co-workers Kate Cullen, Susie Taylor and Jacks Cross with their lottery ticket. Picture: Peter Wallis

HWL Ebsworth litigation dispute resolution partner, Warren Jiear, urged participants in more casual syndicates to protect their potential winnings and - moreover - their friendships.

"Obviously, the fun of a group buy-in on a lottery is a great way to build office camaraderie, but, as with all things that are informal and have potential to earn a lot of money, disputes have a way of arising," Mr Jiear said.

He recommends that, to minimise the risk of a messy court case before you buy a ticket decide how the winnings will be distributed, based on how much each person is going to contribute to the tickets, and how often'

Work out what happens if the group wins and someone is unable to contribute to the tickets or misses multiple weeks. Get everyone to agree on the terms via email and keep records of who has paid their share each week.

The team being Powerball and Gold Lotto recommend everyone register their entries to a player card. If you have a private syndicate someone needs to keep a record of who has contributed. Better still there's the SyndiMate app that people can use that gives each syndicate member their own ticket.

The Lottery Office also runs formal online syndicates on its website.

Vanessa Hernandez, from Australian Family Lawyers, warns that winners who are also going through marital separation may see their troubles jackpot as spouses negotiate the Family Court minefield.

"Most of the time the Family Court sees lottery wins, that happened during a marriage or relationship, as joint property and you can expect the winnings to be included in a property settlement if there is a divorce or separation," Ms Hernandez warns.

"But it's not always that clear-cut and there may be cases where the parties have conducted their financial affairs separately and expressed intentions to keep their property separate.

"In those cases, lotto wins could be deemed to be separate property.

"The good news is that if the lottery win provides one person with a significant financial resource, which you will never have access to, it might be that you get a better settlement from the joint property."

Ms Hernandez said that in one recent case, a lotto win on a ticket bought by the husband was deemed his - as he had been playing the numbers for years before the relationship; he bought the ticket; the winnings were put into a bank account in his sole name; and the couple didn't have joint finances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as How striking it rich can leave you broke


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