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EuroMillions lottery win: Experts suggest ways to handle a massive windfall

·6-min read

The dilemma of what to do with a huge lottery win is the stuff of dreams for most people.

But those lucky enough to have a huge windfall should plan for the future as well as readjusting to day-to-day life on their new, turbo-charged income, according to finance experts.

Joe and Jess Thwaite, from Gloucester, were revealed on Thursday as the winners of Britain’s biggest EuroMillions lottery jackpot of £184 million.

The couple, who are aged in their 40s and have two children, scooped a record-breaking £184,262,899.

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “Average household wealth in the UK is just over £300,000, including property, savings, pensions and everything else which is owned.

“Fewer than 1% of all households hold more than £3 million of wealth and so winning millions would lift most people into a very select segment of the population.”

EuroMillions winners
Joe and Jess Thwaite celebrate after winning the record-breaking EuroMillions jackpot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Becky O’Connor, head of pensions and savings at interactive investor, said legal support, independent financial advice and an excellent accountant are key.

Giving her suggestions for what people could potentially do with an enormous windfall, she said: “With this kind of money, you have the luxury of being able to separate it out into different investments and types of account and use up all your tax-free allowances – something most of the population can only dream of.

“So firstly, fill your tax-free allowances including your annual Isa allowance of £20,000 and if you have a partner, their Isa allowance too.

“Junior Isa allowances of £9,000 for any children you have could be maxed out and don’t forget your pension annual allowance, which is £40,000 or up to your current earnings, whichever is lower.

“You might also benefit from something called ‘carry forward’, which could allow you to fill up unused pension annual allowance for up to the previous three years.

“Don’t forget, you can leave money in a defined contribution pension to relatives and they won’t pay inheritance tax on it, so if you want to leave some of your millions to family, your pension can be part of the plan to do so tax efficiently.

“You should be mindful of the £1.073 million lifetime allowance limit on pensions, above which a tax charge is levied.

“Sometimes it can be worth going above the limit and paying the extra tax bill, but a good financial adviser will be able to help you plan this as tax efficiently as possible.

“While making sure you don’t pay more tax than necessary through intelligent use of allowances is important, there’s more to life than tax and with huge sums of money, it’s not something you can expect to avoid completely.

“Working out how to live off the money will be equally important and with such large sums, investing for income could mean you can live quite well off investment returns with a decent chance of preserving a lot of the capital.”

Ms O’Connor also cautioned that current high inflation and an unpredictable stock market could put pressure on investments – so having a diverse portfolio of assets is an important strategy.

She added: “It’s really important to seek independent financial advice from a trusted adviser with this kind of money suddenly at your disposal. Legal support for drawing up wills and an excellent accountant will also be good investments in their own right.”

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, added: “One of the most enjoyable parts of receiving a windfall is spending it, so you shouldn’t feel guilty if you wish to splash a portion of the cash.”

Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at Bestinvest, suggested one way to celebrate without blowing too large a sum could be to have a “millionaire experience” – adding: “Whether that’s taking a luxury trip, going out for a mega-expensive meal or buying a fancy car.”

The next step could be to create a financial plan.

Ms Haine suggested: “Sit down with your team of experts to establish your level of risk and then they will help you build up a portfolio of investments suited to that.

“If you want to help loved ones with cash sums or property purchases, add these gifts into the plan so that you do not leave yourself short later in life.

“The last thing you want is to run out of cash during your retirement when you have got used to living a certain lifestyle and cannot work to make up any shortfall.

“Another sensible move is to create a will, if you don’t already have one, to ensure there is not a fight over your inheritance after you have gone.”

Ian Pickford, partner and head of financial planning at audit and tax firm Mazars, said: “If managed correctly (a big windfall) can offer numerous generations a lifetime of financial security, but it can also cause family rifts and money troubles down the line.

“That’s why as the dust starts to settle and the champagne is put down, it’s imperative that people seek the advice of experts and put a long-lasting plan in place.”

Mr Thwaite has told how the family had been trying to move house for a while and had looked on Rightmove – but in the past what they had wanted was “far beyond” what was affordable.

Now, they could potentially have their pick.

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “Being able to go shopping as a cash buyer for a multimillion-pound home is something many of us only get to dream about, so it’s very exciting for this couple to be able to draw a search around all of the UK on Rightmove and take their pick.

“If they choose to stay local, the most expensive home for sale in Gloucester is currently £3 million, highlighting just how huge a sum of money their total win is as they could buy it 60 times over.

“It may not come down to money though as their dream might be to buy a beautiful cottage in the Cotswolds.

“Home hunters often tell us that even if money was no object they would still want something practical like a utility room over a luxury like a swimming pool, so once they’ve had time to celebrate their good fortune they may find their wish-list includes a lot more practicalities alongside the more exciting things like a cinema room or tennis court.”

Grainne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: “When it comes to property taxes, the way stamp duty works means that the more you spend on your home, the bigger the stamp duty charge.

“For example on a £300,000 home, the stamp duty payable is £5,000 while on a £2 million home, it rises to £153,750.

“If you are looking for a £10 million super-prime mansion, the purchase taxes will cost £1.14 million.

“And if it ends up being your second property because you want to hang on to your original family home, you can add an extra £300,000 to the bill.”

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said those suddenly coming into a fortune do not need to rush to act.

She suggested: “Consider the reality of your dreams. Some people may have dreamt of living in a huge house.

“However, ask yourself how much of your windfall you’ll want to spend on the upkeep – and on heating it of course.”

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