Mega Millions jackpot exceeding $500M for fourth time ever

By Personal FinanceFOXBusiness

Alpharetta, GA, USA - Feruary 01, 2014 - Powerball and Mega Million lottery forms. Both lottery's are a US multi-state lottery with prizes often reaching into hundreds of millions of dollars.

The estimated jackpot for Friday night’s Mega Millions rose more than $19 million from strong ticket sales to $521 million, marking the fourth time it has exceeded $500 million.

Continue Reading Below

The jackpot has been accumulating for more than two months since its last winner on Jan. 5 reaped $451 million.

The winner, Shane Missler, 20, of Port Richey, Florida, claimed the prize but chose to receive his winnings in a one-time, lump-sum payment of $281.87 million.

The cash option for Friday’s drawing at 11 p.m. ET is estimated at $317 million.

The Mega Millions website points out that the chances of winning the jackpot are quite bad at 1 in 302.6 million. But what happens if you do win?

Jonathan Rikoon, a New-York based partner at Loeb & Loeb who specializes in trusts and estates, tells FOX Business that one of your first moves should be to stop, think and plan.

“Don’t tell anyone yet,” Rikoon says. “That includes social media.”

He also says that contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to rush out and collect the prize right away. You have plenty of time, but make sure the winning ticket is in a secure spot, such as a bank safety deposit box.

Then, “unlist your phone number, if you still have a landline,” he says. “Take a leave of absence from your job so you can decide at your leisure about quitting, upgrading your career or spending some time without gainful employment.”

Rikoon adds that you shouldn’t burn any bridges since a life of leisure isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. In most cases, he says, coming into money can be both a blessing and a curse.

Lastly, get referrals from professional advisers to help you think and plan on what to do with your money. Here is a list of whom to consult:

- Tax advisers who can help discuss lump sum vs. installments, whether to pay state and local taxes before the end of the year and other considerations. Also, make sure you keep up with future tax and other obligations including payroll withholdings and insurance for all your new staff.

- Financial advisers to project how much you want to be able to spend upfront and each year.

- Legal advisers to help address issues such as how you can protect against the flood of requests you are sure to get for help and handouts (and “loans” that may never get repaid) from family, friends, co-workers, strangers and charities, -Think about a professional philanthropy adviser, too, to make sure the organizations are legitimate and that you get the right tax benefits.