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How to get your fair share in a group lotto win

Posted at 10:55 PM, Feb 19, 2015
and last updated 2016-01-13 16:54:01-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buying a lottery ticket with friends, family or co-workers is a popular way to play the Hoosier Lottery.

In 2010, 15 people split a $34.5 million ticket, amounting to $2.3 million apiece, data shows.

In 2012, 29 players split a $2 million ticket, amounting to $68,965 apiece.

In 2013, a dispute over a $9.5 million jackpot ended up with seven hairdressers in court.

Rich Waples, an attorney who's filed and settled two class action lawsuits against the Hoosier Lottery said when you buy a ticket with other people, that ticket represents a contract.

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"Unfortunately a lot of those contracts are only oral," Waples said. "And there's no proof of what the terms of the contract really are   When there's a lot of money involved, there's a winner, a lot of people's recollection of what those terms are differ."

Waples said the best thing to do is put a contract in writing, detailing how much money everyone's putting in and how the jackpot would be split.

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"Even if you just record it with your cellphone, just get everyone to agree," Waples said. "'OK, we're all putting in the same amount of money. We're gonna buy these tickets and if we win we're gonna divide it equally,' and that would be sufficient for 99 percent of the cases."

It might seem like a hassle with the odds against you, but Waples said it's better to protect yourself.        

"Lightning strikes," he said.

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According to the Hoosier Lottery's winner brochure, for $50,000+ wins, group winners must identify a representative who will sign the ticket and claim form.

"The decision to claim your winnings as a group must be made at the time you claim your prize," read the brochure. "Winnings will not be distributed until all members have completed the necessary documentation."

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The Hoosier Lottery can make separate prize payments to a group of up to 99 winners.

You must complete IRS Form 5754 to claim as a group, which divides tax liability for group prizes.


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