Usually winning Lotto is great. You can take a long holiday, pay
off the mortgage or help out the kids.
But sometimes a Lotto win, or any sudden windfall, can turn into
a nightmare. Courts are riddled with couples, families and friends
battling over a winning ticket. The ABC's Law Report recently
highlighted a few cases of love lost and Lotto.
A woman in a de facto relationship won $3 million. Twelve months
later they separated. In court the woman argued she bought the
ticket so she should keep the money. The man argued they were a
couple when she bought the ticket. The court ruled the ticket was
bought with joint funds and split the money 50/50.
A couple separated after a 20 year marriage. Before the divorce
was finalised the woman won $6 million in Lotto. The man wanted a
share arguing it was part of their joint assets. She argued they
had been apart for six months so she had won the money on her own.
The Family Court divided the couple's assets into two pools -
the lotto win in one, their assets in another. The judge ruled the
man will get 15 per cent of the money left from Lotto.
In another case a woman was the family breadwinner as the man
had a drug problem. There were no assets to divide when they
separated. Eighteen months later the man won $5 million. She argued
in the Family Court her financial contribution to the marriage
should be recognised out of post-separation acquired property. Even
though she had remarried, the Family Court ruled she should get 15
The cases show the Family Court takes into account fairness and
future needs in dividing a family's assets, even after
But what if you win Lotto and die? Joshua Crowther, a wills and
estates expert at Stacks/The Law Firm, says 'eligible
persons' including people who can show they were dependent on
the deceased and lived with them for a while, as well as
ex-spouses, can make a claim on the windfall. It becomes part of
the estate that is divided pursuant to the will.
"If there's no will, the estate, including lotto money,
falls under laws of intestacy and is divided amongst relatives in a
set order which can have very unintended effects," Crowther
said. "It's better to draw up a will because if there
aren't any relatives it can all go to the State."
Chances are you'll never go through this turmoil. The odds
on winning Lotto are one in 45 million. Then again, somebody has to
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
There are several requirements that must be completed by an executor before the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).