Posted on: April 8, 2022, 08:45h. 

Last updated on: April 8, 2022, 08:45h.

A recent $15 million Massachusetts lottery winner opted to collect the massive winnings through a legal entity called a trust. That arrangement means the person or persons who hold the winning ticket can remain relatively anonymous, and still collect the money.

Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law
Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law, pictured above. He explains it is easy for an attorney to set up a trust for a lottery winner. (Image: Nova Southeastern University)

In the case of last month’s win for the “Massachusetts Millionaires’ Club” ticket game, the P.M. Investment Trust of Fall River, Mass., claimed the winning ticket on March 31, MassLive.com, a regional news site, reported. The winner was represented by a trustee, identified as Joseph H. Silvia. He apparently is an attorney in Fall River.

He turned in the winning lottery ticket, got the check from the state lottery, and deposited the money in an account. The actual winner or winners then get access to the account. In practical terms, it means the lottery cannot publicly release the name of the winner.

Still, members of a trust must be identified in the state lottery’s internal documents. The names get shared with different government agencies, MassLive.com said. If someone who wins the lottery owes money for taxes, public college tuition, or child support those amounts can get deducted from the winnings.

Some nine states actually give the option for lottery winners to remain anonymous — without a trust — and still collect the loot, MassLive.com reported. Massachusetts is not among them.

Elsewhere, in Florida last June “The Love You More Trust” turned in a $286 million Powerball ticket through a trustee. He was identified as Clay Tousey, 69, of Ponte Vedra Beach, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Easy for Lawyer To Set Up Trust

Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law, explains it is easy to create a trust. But a lawyer needs to set it up.

“All trust lawyers have boilerplate forms that, with the addition of a little bit information — and perhaps some tailoring if there are unique circumstances — can be ready to go in minutes,” Jarvis said.

The anonymity benefits winners. They can keep their privacy.

Lottery winners typically are besieged by long-lost friends and relatives who want to cash in on their friend’s or relative’s sudden good fortune,” Jarvis explained to Casino.org. “Remaining anonymous also helps lottery winners avoid being preyed on by criminals and scammers.”

Jarvis further warns that lottery winners need to ensure the trustee acts in the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries. A dishonest trustee could abscond with the money.

No Public Photo of Actual Winner

From the lottery’s point of view, trusts can be annoying.

“Besides the extra paperwork that has to be checked, lottery officials don’t get to take a picture of the beaming winner holding a huge check,” Jarvis said.

Such photos are worth their weight in gold when it comes to advertising/encouraging others to play. And it’s just not the same when the photo is of a trustee.”



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