The pitfalls of buying a lottery ticket as a couple
Out of all the people who purchase lottery tickets on a regular basis, it turns out that more single people do than those in a relationship. For the single lottery player this makes purchases, checking, and validating the ticket very simple. The player is the only one who has to sign the ticket, the only one who needs to show ID and do the interview, and is the one who gets the prize money.
But for couples, who buy and redeem the ticket, and who actually gets the prize money, can be a bit daunting. Should only one person sign it? In this case, the person who signs the ticket is the one who gets the prize. Only the laws of the country the winner is in dictate of a spouse, married or common law, shares any money that comes into the relationship. There have been instances where a couple has purchased a lottery ticket and one of them signed it. When the person who signed the ticket checks it and finds out it has won a large jackpot, that person has on occasion, failed to notify their partner and either cashed the ticket themselves and said nothing, or has gotten a separation or divorce from their partner and claimed the ticket afterwards. This of course has presented a lot of legal wrangling that ate up a good chunk of the lottery cash.
So when you and your spouse decide to buy lottery tickets, who should sign the ticket? It all depends. Most lotteries do not let more than one person sign the ticket and this person is the one to whom the prize will be paid. If you are married or living common law, in most jurisdictions any money coming into the relationship is considered mutual money and is owned by both parties. This would also include any lottery winnings. However, what if you are a couple but not married or living common law? That can be an issue if the lottery ticket signer does not want to give any of the winnings to their boy/girlfriend.
If you have any suspicion or thoughts about a lottery win not being split between the two of you, you can draw up an agreement that states both parties are entitled to half of all lottery winnings won by either person. This could cost money as a lawyer may need to do it for you. The other way to treat the ticket as a group play. A group play is where more than one person has claim to the ticket. Group plays are used in workplace lottery pools, among people in a club or organization, and a bunch of friends and family buying tickets together.
What happens is, the group captain who represents the group is the one to sign the ticket on the front and/or back. Some jurisdictions allow the phrase “In Trust: to be written after the name to indicate that more than one person is claiming ownership of the ticket. If your jurisdiction allows it, then this is the best way to go. Decide which one of you is going to buy and sign the tickets and have them write “In Trust” after their name. When filling out the lottery win forms, indicate it is a group play and list the other person as and where required on the form.
This will prevent any possible legal issue in regards to the winnings not being split evenly between you both. Normally though, most relationships, both boy/girlfriend and common law/married, are very solid and trusting so that if a lottery is won, the one partner who signed the ticket brings the win into the relationship and doesn't hide the winnings. If the relationship is solid, it doesn’t matter who signs the winning ticket.