Following the death of David Bush in August of 2015, his widow, 72-year old Victoria, B.C. resident Peggy Bush, was outraged when Apple demanded that she get a court order in order to obtain access to apps on the couple’s iPad.
Bush knew the iPad’s login password, but did not know the Apple ID password that had been set up by her husband and which would have allowed her access to all of their downloaded apps. In his will, David had left her the family home and car, as well as most other things that he owned. However, there was no mention of digital assets such as online passwords.
After contacting Apple multiple times over the course of two months, and providing the tech giant with a notarized death certificate, a copy of the will, and the iPad’s serial number, Apple still demanded a court order. Bush then contacted the CBC’s “Go Public”, which contacted Apple on her behalf. Apple has since apologized and is now working with Bush to solve the issue without a court order.
Currently, Canadian digital property laws are unclear as to the inheritance of digital assets such passwords and digital accounts. However, it may be prudent to take certain steps, such as:
- including information of where to find passwords in wills;
- putting passwords in a safety box, and willing the box and all of its contents upon death;
- expressly giving executors the right to have access to accounts, as well as the right to extract digital assets; and
- paying attention to the terms and conditions when registering an online account, as some policies explicitly state that accounts are non-transferable, and that all rights to an account’s content terminate upon death.