When it comes to money matters, privacy is a big issue. We see it all the time in the estates area – a great deal of time and planning can go into ensuring that estate details remain confidential.

Of course, the need for privacy can be even more important during your lifetime, especially if your wealth is substantial – or suddenly becomes substantial. You may have read about a recent U.S. lottery winner of $560 million who went to court to argue that she should receive the prize but was entitled to remain anonymous.

Based on New Hampshire law, she was successful. And there are a handful of U.S. states that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, if you were ever to win the big one in Canada and claim a major lottery prize, your hopes of having this new wealth fly under the radar are slim indeed, although there have been rare exceptions.

No privacy for lottery winners in Canada

Provincial lottery corporations have rules that require winners to publicly disclose their identity and take part in lottery public relations activities, such as having their photo taken with an oversized cheque. The corporations argue that this is necessary for transparency (showing that someone did indeed win the jackpot) and for promoting future draws.

Many Canadian winners have argued that they should be able to remain anonymous. One B.C. man who recently won $50 million argued that the ownership of the ticket had been transferred to a trust, and that the trust could collect the winnings. The lottery corporation stuck to its guns and held that only an individual or group of individuals could claim a prize. After 21 months of haggling, the winner had the trust transfer the ticket back to himself and he collected his prize, with full publicity.

An Ontario individual, however, was recently successful in convincing the lottery corporation to mute all publicity about their win. The lottery folks would only say that the personal circumstances of the individual were “rare” but would not release details of what those rare circumstances were.

All to say, if you play the lottery in Canada, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be smiling for the camera if you win.

Thank you for reading … Have a great day,
Ian Hull