Niles funeral home offering free services to those affected by Legacy scam

Published 11:56 pm Friday, January 28, 2011

Dozens of families were affected by the actions of Matthew Purchase, former owner of Legacy Family Funeral Service in Berrien Springs.

Purchase is facing 15 felony charges for his alleged embezzlement of more than $200,000. He is accused of pocketing money people gave him for pre-paid funeral services instead of putting the funds in an escrow account, as required by state law. He will appear in Berrien County Trial Court next month.

But while many families are waiting to find out if they will get restitution, a Niles funeral home is helping to help make the wrong right.

Tim Brown, owner of Brown Funeral Home, said he is offering to donate his services for free to families affected by Purchase’s actions.

“For many people, that’s the last funds they have left,” Brown said. “It’s unfortunate what has happened to those families and we want to do what we can to help.”

Brown says his funeral home has two employees who are certified pre-planning consultants.

“They go through a course and take a national exam,” he said. “They take an oath stating that they’ll follow the (Funeral Director’s Association) Bill of Rights for funeral pre-planning.”

Brown said Purchase’s alleged scam hasn’t hurt people’s trust of the funeral industry as a whole.

“I haven’t noticed (a mistrust) at all,” he said. “Pre-planning is actually still on the rise.”