Will of recluse to be settled

LAWYERS are set to finally hand out the estate of a millionaire recluse – after a four-year hunt for relatives.Former merchant seaman Billie Richardson made a £1.

LAWYERS are set to finally hand out the estate of a millionaire recluse – after a four-year hunt for relatives.

Former merchant seaman Billie Richardson made a £1.18million fortune by playing the stock market, but left no known next of kin or will when he died in 1999.

It sparked a detective-like search through Mr Richardson's complex family tree by lawyers, including Woodbridge solicitor Tony Mitchell, and they can now list 28 long distance relatives eligible to share the money.

The descendants, from five deceased uncles and aunts of Mr Richardson, are his closest living relatives.

A judge is due to hear the distribution proposal for his wealth, estimated now to be around £750,000, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today.

Vivian Chapman, counsel presenting the case, said: "The judge is being asked to approve the distribution of the estate. Mr Richardson died without leaving a will and it proved difficult to trace the family as he had no immediate relatives.

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"But all the distant relatives have now been identified."

The 76-year-old lived the last 30 years of his life in a shabby semi-detached house in Merseyside with no TV or telephone, venturing out at night to buy pipe tobacco and a financial paper to study the markets.

When he died, his body lay undiscovered for more than a week.

A will surfaced in Wales some time after his death, which appeared to have been made while Mr Richardson was serving in the Navy.

It reportedly instructed for the whole fortune to be handed over to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), but this turned out to be a fake.

Mr Chapman said: "It was thought that Mr Richardson had made a will when he was in the Navy, but it is accepted by everyone that it was not valid. The RNLI are very happy for it to be distributed to the next of kin."

Had relatives not been found, the dead man's estate would have been held for 30 years before going to the crown.

N Did you know Mr Richardson? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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