Lawyers could get some of record $1.5B Powerball purse if group-purchase pact isn't well-documented

One might think that the winner of a record Powerball jackpot of at least $1.5 billion on Wednesday would face unalloyed joy.

But history has shown that lawyers could get some of the purse if an office pool or other group buys a winning ticket and the terms of the joint purchase agreement are disputed.

Appropriate documentation can help avoid such issues, a Louisiana lawyer advises. A pre-drawing email to all participants should list the names of contributors, how much each paid and the share of the winnings each will get, Phelps Dunbar partner Christopher Ralston tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

And if the email includes photographs of the tickets purchased, with their numbers clearly visible, so much the better.

An employer who contributes should also specify he or she is spending personal rather than business funds, he notes.

Specifying one person who will be in charge of collecting funds and purchasing tickets is also a good idea, reports.

And, for any lucky winning group that beats odds of nearly 1 in 300 million, state law will come into play. In New York, checks can be issued to no more than 10 individuals but other options include forming a limited liability company or a trust to accept and distribute the payment.

See also: “Alleged agreement to share lottery proceeds didn’t have to be in writing, Florida Supreme Court says” “Jury says brothers must split winning $1M lottery ticket, but ruling leaves tax issue unresolved” “Lottery Litigation Is So Frequent It Has Created a New Set of Case Law”

Related coverage:

CNBC: “Even the rich want in on record-breaking Powerball”

New York Times (reg. req.): “Dear Powerball Winner: Take Our Advice and Take the Annuity”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.