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Widow wins battle with Apple over deceased husband’s password

A widow in Canada has won her battle with Apple after the tech giant demanded that she get a court order to obtain her deceased husband’s Apple ID password.

CBC reports that 72-year-old Peggy Bush ran into difficulties getting the password from Apple after losing her husband David to lung cancer in August. Bush wanted to retrieve her husband’s password so that she could play games on an iPad – she knew the iPad’s login, but not the Apple ID password.

“From Apple, I couldn’t even get a silly little password, it just seems nonsense,” she told CBC.

Her daughter, Donna Bush, contacted Apple to ask if it could help retrieve the password or reset the account. After multiple phone calls over two months, Donna provided Apple with the serial numbers for her parents’ iPad and Apple computer, her father’s will that left everything to Peggy, and a notarized death certificate.  However, she was told by Apple that she would need a court order, CBC reports.

Related: Facebook lets users select a ‘legacy contact’ to manage their digital afterlife

After CBC’s Go Public program contacted Apple, the tech giant reached out to the Bush family and apologized for what it described as a “misunderstanding.” Apple is reportedly working with the family to solve the problem — without a court order.

Dealing with a deceased person’s digital assets is a growing problem, according to Gerry Beyer, the Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law. “It’s huge, this is one of the hottest issues in estate planning and administration today,” he told “I have dozens of anecdotal stories of similar problems in the U.S. – this is a type of property that, 20 years ago, wasn’t an issue.”

Beyer explained that U.S. states are trying to find a way for people to access a deceased person’s account without violating federal law. “There’s legislation being proposed in dozens of states to assist with this problem – things are getting better very slowly, but very few states have laws in place on this issue.”

The law professor advises people to find out whether service providers have a way of naming a person who can access digital assets in the event of someone’s death. Additionally, he advocates backing up important items from the cloud onto some form of “tangible media” that, if necessary, can be given to someone. Beyer also suggests creating a comprehensive inventory of accounts and passwords. “It’s scary, but you have got to do it,” he said. “You have got to be extremely careful what you do with it.”

Last year Facebook announced that it is letting users select a “legacy contact” who can manage their account on the social media site when they pass away.

Questions about the so-called “digital afterlife” have swirled since the rise of social media. In 2013, Google became one of the first major Internet companies to allow users to select digital heirs to services such as Gmail and cloud storage, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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