This question is as important for a major lottery winner as finding the right money management team.
In most cases, taking a lump sum means getting a smaller payout than you'd get from an annuitized arrangement where the state or lottery corporation pays your winnings in yearly installments. So why would you go for less with a lump sum? Seventy-five percent of all winners, including the Castellanos, opt for the lump sum [source: Sockman]. It simply makes more sense: Annuitized payments include the roughly 5-percent interest the state earns on the bonds it takes out to guarantee your winnings. Most lottery winners bet they can get a better rate by investing the lump sum.
Dying shouldn't be an issue in your decision. Lottery winnings -- annuitized or lump sum -- become part of your estate, so your heirs will receive payments [source: California Lottery]. Arranging this properly is yet another reason to hire a tax attorney and accountant.
Other questions include whether you feel you can trust yourself to not squander your winnings. This may mean you're better off with annuitized payments.