It sucks to win the lottery
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Who wants to win the lottery? Not Harvey Jones...
Ever dreamed of being a millionaire? I bet you have, probably on a Saturday evening, just before your Lottery numbers failed to come up.
Well, think again. Being a millionaire is hell, and being a multi-millionaire is multiples of hell. That’s because too much money is poison. And it’s a cruel type of poison, because it contaminates the people closest to you.
Scores on the Dawes
Don’t believe me? Then look at Angela and Dave Dawes, who have just scooped the Euromillions £101 million jackpot.
Now you, I and pretty much everybody in the country wish we had pocketed that £101 million, not them. But don’t turn green, because we wouldn’t like to face what they’re about to endure.
Instant millionaires, instant enemies
The “lucky” winners face an avalanche of claims from former partners and aggrieved relatives who want a share of that big fat cheque.
Given the size of their win, plenty will be willing to try it on in the courts, says Robin Charrot of George Davies Solicitors, who handles high-value divorces for celebrities and sports people. The bigger the win, the bigger the financial incentive to stir up trouble.
Angela and John’s big-hearted decision to make 20 of their friends “sort of millionaires” has backfired, as divorced partners and disgruntled children scramble to claim their share of the windfall.
“Money always brings out the worst in people, and I’m not surprised that everyone is coming out of the woodwork,” Charrot says.
The couple look likely to lose more friends than they gain.
Fur coats and nasty tats
Money also brings out the worst in the tabloids: Angela and Dave’s taste in clothing and tattoos has been publicly pilloried.
They could have chosen to remain anonymous. That would have spared them the tabloids, but it wouldn’t have spared them the family ructions, such as the abandoned son who claims that “If she gave me every penny of her £101m it wouldn't make up for what she's done”.
Turn a fresh page
The Lottery has left a trail of family woe. Last year, Nigel Page win £56 million on Euromillions, and was promptly taken to court by his ex-wife, who wanted her share. They broke up a decade ago, but the courts still granted her £2 million.
This underlines the importance of including a “clean break” clause in any divorce settlement, big or small, to prevent shock future claims on your wealth.
Mr Page still has £54 million to play with, so don’t feel too sorry for him.
If you are doing the Lottery, make sure it is absolutely clear who is buying the ticket, and who will share in any jackpot. Your spouse, partner, ex, children, love children, suspected love children and anybody who has come into intimate contact with you will be racking their brains to see how they can share in your good fortune.
And if you make some of your friends “sort of millionaires”, brace yourself to lose the rest.
Family and friends aren’t your only worry. If you’re part of a syndicate, you need to set out the rules of engagement very clearly. Syndicates scoop one in four jackpots, so protect yourself from any fallout with a Lottery Syndicate Agreement.
Love is… sharing £101 million
Now the odds are that you’re not going to win a million, and nor is any of your family. But even small sums can poison your personal life, and no money at all is even worse.
I recently alerted you to Five things to think about before you make love. Well, here’s the sixth. Do you love that person enough to share your Euromillions with them?
Where there’s no Will there’s a war
As family relationships become ever more muddled, we all have to consider the impact of money on our nearest and dearest. Plenty of families have come to blows over inheritances worth tens of thousands of pounds, let alone tens of millions. Yet less than half of us draw up a Will, leaving our loved ones to slug it out after our death.
The ensuing melee may not end up in the tabloids, but it can still bequeath your family a lifetime of bitterness.
Keep it clean
The “clean break” principle doesn’t just protect Lottery winners. It is worth applying in any relationship breakdown, especially if you have a mortgage, bank account or credit cards in joint names. You may have stopped sharing a bed, but you will still be sharing a credit record. If your ex gets any nasty marks on theirs, yours will also suffer unsightly stains.
If you have broken ties with your partner, you might want to subject them to a financial disassociation as well. This could also prevent a disgruntled ex running up debts on your behalf.
Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you a lot of trouble. Remember this next time you fail to win the Lottery. It may be the only consolation you have.