Speculation last week may have been premature after the suicide of 59-year-old  Catherine DeLacote in Ko Samui. Certainly, the French woman’s ฿100 million bequest may be worth less while lawyers ordered a media blackout. Estate details and the will contents remain to be divulged as the essential legal process of probate is pursued.

Speculation this week about a wealthy French woman on Ko Samui leaving ฿100 million to her maid may have been premature. It has subsequently emerged that the lawyers handling the administration of Ms Catherine DeLacote’s estate have advised against media interviews. The contents of the French woman’s will, revealed in her last message, have yet to be made public. In addition, the value of her estate also needs to be confirmed. At length, it’s now thought to comprise her hillside villa residence, an inland site, jewellery, cars and her bank accounts. Some Thai media pundits speculate the value to be upward of ฿50 million. Previously, the wealthy French woman was known to have owned up to five villa properties on the holiday island. At length, these were rental income properties, which she had developed with her husband whom she later divorced.

49-year-old Ms Nutwalai Phupongta, who was at the epicentre of speculation after her employer died on April 29th. 59-year-old Catherine DeLacote died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in what police believe to be suicide at her luxury villa in Ko Samui.

Last week, Thailand was abuzz with the news that a French woman had left her maid up to ฿100 million. However, by the end of the week, there were some questions over the matter.

It followed the death on Ko Samui of 59-year-old Catherine DeLacote. Previously, Ms DeLacote had a company owning 5 luxury villas on the idyllic island.

French woman had lived in Thailand for seventeen years. She and her husband moved to Ko Samui in 2012 and successfully developed villa rental properties 

The French woman, who moved to the island twelve years ago with her husband, had successfully developed villa rental properties, including one where they lived. The French woman had lived in Thailand for five years before that.

The pair had subsequently divorced but Ms DeLacote was known to be close to him.

Nevertheless, she was known to be suffering from ill health. Her estate is said to include her expensive hillside villa property, an unspecified amount of cash, an inland site on the island, jewellery and cars.

The 59-year-old reportedly took her own life at her Ko Samui villa on Monday,  April 29th last.

Swimming pool attendant found her body at 8 am

A swimming pool attendant found her body at 8 am that morning. She had shot herself through the left temple with a .45 calibre gun. The powerful shot exited through the right side of her head and left a bullet hole in one of the villa’s doors.

Ms DeLacote purchased the firearm recently due to fears of intruders at the secluded property.

Before her death, the 59-year-old had deliberately pulled down the CCTV camera. Previously, it was at an angle overlooking the pool area. Significantly, Ms DeLacote used a mop handle to push it down. The French woman wanted her death recorded on video.

In the video, she was seen typing before taking her own life. 

Afterwards, she put on a scarf or light cloak over her swimwear, lay on a sun lounger, and ultimately shot herself.

Police later found the gun, a bullet casing, a glass of vodka, and sunglasses near the body. Additionally, there was a packet of cigarettes. At the side of the sunbed was a congealed pool of blood where the casing was found.

Medical responders to the incident, reported to Ko Samui police, found the French woman still breathing. However, onsite CPR efforts failed to revive her

Later on, when the incident was reported, medics from a local Ko Samui hospital thought the woman was still breathing. She was lying on a sun lounger. Her body was laid to the ground as CPR was attempted. 

During this process, the gun fell to the ground with the body. However, she was declared dead at the scene.

An online note was later published. It was written before her death to her long-serving maid of 17 years.

This was 49-year-old Ms Nutwalai Phupongta, also known on the island as ‘Aunty Tim,’ who was known to be dedicated to her employer. She was the one the French woman sent her last message to before taking her own life.

‘My road, it’s over here. I sincerely think you are a person of integrity. It is for this reason that I have chosen you to be my executor. Nothing complicated. I put my will in my safe. I would like to be cremated and have my ashes placed on an island. As for the existing company. It’s only my villa. There are 2 more left. I’m giving it back to my ex-husband and some other bank accounts. I ask you to deliver the three cats I love. I would like to give you this phone. There is no code for you. I have been paying my membership dues for several months. And please notify the following people in France that I have died.’

Last message of the French woman before her suicide said she was making a bequest to her husband and asked for friends in France to be notified of her death

Ms DeLacote specified her husband, two cousins related to her mother and two friends, one to whom she was Godmother in France.

At the same time, police in Ko Samui conducted a thorough investigation after the incident was reported. A foreigner dying as a result of a gunshot wound usually leads to suspicion.

However, in this case, they are certain it was suicide. 

Ms DeLacote shot herself with her left hand. Crucially, her left hand tested positive for gunpowder residue. Additionally, all staff who worked at Ms DeLacote’s home, up to five different people, were tested. All had negative results.

A forensics team conducted an exhaustive examination of the property. All the details pointed to Ms DeLacote taking her own life.

It is understood that the French woman was suffering from advanced cancer. Additionally, she also suffered from haemorrhoids, also known as piles, a painful disease of the anal canal.

Details of the will at the end of last week were uncertain. The final estimate of the value of the  estate by local journalists was upwards of ฿50 million

Speculation in the media suggested that Aunty Tim had been the lucky beneficiary of the will. However, by the end of the week, this was less certain.

The maid, who was left grief-stricken by the death of Ms DeLacote, is understood to have been interviewed by some reporters on Ko Samui.

After that, speculation rose about the nature of the will left in the dead woman’s safe. In addition, it was suggested that the fortune left by Ms DeLacote was considerably less than the figure quoted.

It appears that the French woman had been disposing of her assets before her death. Her estate was valued at upwards of ฿50 million, although this cannot be confirmed until the will process is fully played out.

One seasoned journalist on Ko Samui estimated that the villa where Ms DeLacote lived was worth ฿28 to ฿30 million on 1 rai of land. Another inland site of land was valued at ฿5 to ฿8 million. However, no one knows the amounts in the French woman’s bank accounts.

Lawyers acting for Ms DeLacote’s estate then ordered a media blackout. The details contained in the French woman’s will have not yet been formally disclosed

In addition, it is reported that the lawyers administering Ms DeLacote’s estate had expressed dissatisfaction. They did not want details reported in the media prematurely.

The 49-year-old maid, ‘Aunty Tim’ was asked not to make further statements to reporters.

Under Thai law, a will must be signed and witnessed by two people to be valid if it is a typed document. A handwritten will may also be made, but it is subject to scrutiny as to the mental health of the deceased when making such a declaration.

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It is thought that Ms DeLacote was well-advised under Thai law, as she had previously successfully conducted business in the kingdom.

Body sent to Surat Thani, routine autopsy ordered

In turn, her email message sent before her death cannot be construed as a will under Thai law. Electronic communications are not accepted. Under Thai law, a will must be a written document.

Before her death, Ms DeLacote transferred monies to all her staff. She sent ฿50,000 to Ms Nutwalai, whom she trusted implicitly. This was to take care of regular utility bills.

Additionally, it is reported she transferred ฿500,000 to ‘Aunty Tim’ to provide for her funeral. Aunty Tim last week told reporters that this would take place at Wat Bo Phud on Samui at some later date.

Ms Nutwali has become a popular favourite in Thailand. Many are waiting to see the outcome of the probate process. In short, they wish the reports of a ฿100 million inheritance for the faithful maid to be true.

In recent days, the body of Ms DeLacote was taken by ferry to Surat Thani province as part of an autopsy process. This is a routine procedure in such cases.

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