What would you do if you won the lottery? Here’s one physician’s plan.


Yup, I won the lottery! $785 million dollars. Pinch me because I must be dreaming. I am a physician finance blogger; I would not recommend buying a lottery ticket. But I did. So screw all the people who said it was a waste of $2.

So here I am, the big time winner: What to do now? Well, that is what this post is about.

(In reality, I did not win the lottery. I am still slaving away at a day job; but a person can dream, can’t they?)

Step 1: Sign the back of the ticket and put it somewhere safe

I do not want to lose this gravy train. That would be tragic. Money I had not earned vanishing and leaving me just as poor today as I was yesterday.

Step 2: Consider talking to a lawyer to set up a revocable living trust that will accept the prize money.

I want to keep anonymity in my big win. I don’t want to become a celebrity and target of scammers as is oh too common. So how can I keep my anonymity? Well, a trust may help, and if set up right, I can still have full control of the cash. Sure I have already set up a trust, but now that I am super loaded I want to just get a little lawyer backup.

Step 3: Claim prize in an anonymous fashion into the trust

Step 4: Quit my job

I am not a saint. Happily, I will quit my current life in clinical practice if I won the big bucks. I figure if I took a year off and really missed it then I could go and work for a not for profit caring for uninsured or underinsured patients.

I would not leave my job the next day. As a department of six cardiologists, my sudden departure would greatly impact my colleagues. So I would give my notice and let my boss know I would stick around until a new person was hired and started. That way, my departure would be less painful for my colleagues.

Step 5: Figure out my tax burden

Face it, I am taking the lump sum. The $780 million becomes $480 million. Not too shabby. Now the taxman cometh. Out of the $480 million, the federal government takes out 25%, and states have their own percentage. Luckily, California does not tax lottery winnings, which is pretty crazy if you ask me. So the government gets $120 million of my cash, leaving me with $360 million.

Step 6: Set up a donor-advised fund

If I had $360 million in cash, I can promise you a large chunk of it, likely half, would be going to donations. So I would take $180 million and place it into a donor-advised fund. If interested, Physician on Fire goes over how to do this.

The beauty of the donor-advised fund is I can take a tax write off this year and reduce my income tax. All of a sudden I don’t owe the federal government $120 million anymore. Now I owe them somewhere in the nature of $75 million dollars in taxes.

Plus, I have a large pot of money that I can donate over the course of my life. It will sit in an aggressive stocks only fund and hopefully grow. I can use all of that money, and it’s growth, tax-free to donate to causes we find important. I will never have to worry about wanting to donate.

Step 7: I have $225 million left after taxes and donation plans. Now what?

Now comes the hard part. What to do with all of the leftover cash?

I would probably start by paying off my home and my parents and in-laws homes. Then I would pay off my school debt.

So I still have $224 million left. I would take a few million and hold it as cash amongst various banks. I don’t mind losing the interest to make sure the money is secure.

With the other $200 plus million I would probably put it in a 50/50 portfolio bonds/stocks and let it ride. There is no way I am going to spend $200 million. I would go on a sweet trip around the world with my family on a chartered plane. After my trip I would probably spend my time between California and Tennessee, enjoying time with both my wife and my families.

When we come back, I can figure out what else to do with all that cash.

Not too exciting, but what would you do?

“Dads Dollars Debts” is a cardiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, Dads Dollars Debts.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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