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Widow says Apple told her to get court order to secure dead husband's password

Technically Incorrect: A Canadian woman says that when her husband died, even showing the company his death certificate and will do no good in getting his Apple ID password.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Peggy Bush, who says it took months to get Apple's help.

CBC screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It was easy to get the pension payments transferred. It was easy to get other benefits transferred.

But her late husband's Apple ID password? Now that, said 72-year-old Peggy Bush, was a lot more difficult.

As CBC reports Bush, from Victoria in Canada, simply wanted to play card games on her dead husband's iPad. She hadn't realized it had an Apple ID password.

You might think that all she'd have to do is contact Apple, provide a copy of his death certificate and will, and the password would be handed over.

She said that's how it seemed when her daughter Donna called Apple. However, when she herself provided the iPad's serial number, as well as all the paperwork concerning her husband's death, Bush still says Apple wouldn't budge.

"I finally got someone who said, 'You need a court order.' I was just completely flummoxed. What do you mean a court order? I said that was ridiculous, because we've been able to transfer the title of the house, we've been able to transfer the car, all these things just using a notarized death certificate and the will," Donna Bush told CBC.

Apple didn't immediately reply to a request for comment. However, CBC says that after it contacted Apple the company called the Bushes offering to sort out the problem.

Those blessed with common sense might wonder that digital assets are no different from any other possessions. If you bequeath your things to someone else, that person should have the automatic rights to those things.

When it comes to Facebook, for example, the company is rolling out a feature called the legacy contact. This allows someone whom you designate to continue to operate your Facebook page after you're dead. You also have the option of getting Facebook to delete your account once you're gone.

Google, too, has a similar feature.

It may well be that these days, every will should have to specifically instruct what should be done with all digital assets.

Some might muse that Bush's story is proof that Apple really does take your privacy very seriously. But if it indeed wanted Peggy Bush to get a court order, doesn't that seem a touch extreme?

In times of death, a little sensitivity doesn't come amiss.