TORONTO --It's an issue that's becoming more commonplace after a loved one dies: who owns what we create online when we die? As CBC News reported, for one Canadian widow, that question led to a tech giant demanding a court order so she could get her husband's password.
Peggy Bush had a lot to deal with after her husband died. The 72-year-old didn't think the most complicated thing would be getting a password.
"I could get pensions, I could get benefits, I could get all kinds of things. But from Apple, I couldn't even get a silly little password? It just seemed nonsense," Bush says.
The couple had an iPad and an Apple computer. Bush didn't know the AppleID password.
"It just never crossed my mind," she says.
When her card game stopped working, she needed that password. Donna Bush is her daughter.
"I just called Apple and said 'What do we do about this,' thinking it would be a fairly simple thing to take care of," Donna says.
After many phone calls and giving apple the serial numbers, her father's will, and a notarized death certificate, she says she finally got an answer.
"You need a court order. You need to go to court to do that," she says. "I said that was ridiculous. All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad. I don't want to have to go to court in order to do that."
After Go Public contacted Apple, it called Donna Bush saying there was a misunderstanding and offering help without a court order. The company will not talk about its policy.
Estate lawyer Daniel Nelson specializes in what's called digital assets.
"It's definitely going to become a bigger issue. More and more people are transferring their lives online and it's going to become a greater and greater proportion of one's estate," Nelson says.
We mostly own what we do online, but access is controlled by providers like Apple. The advice? Wills should include how to deal with digital assets and where to find passwords but not the passwords themselves.