Apple iCloud Battle Shows Importance of a Digital Legacy Plan

We all have at least a half-dozen online or social media accounts with passwords containing capital letters, symbols, numbers, etc. And we’ve all had to click the “Forgot my Password” link probably more times than we’d like to admit. A recent battle between a widow and Apple can be even more reason to keep your accounts and passwords either in a writing or in a third-party app- or web-based password service.

Peggy Bush, a 72-old widow from Canada, enjoyed playing games on her husband’s iPad. After losing her husband David to lung cancer in August, Bush ran into issues carrying on with her favorite pass-time: she knew David’s iPad login, but not the Apple ID password.

Her daughter, Donna, contacted Apple to see if they would simply send her the password, even going so far as to provide the serial number to the iPad, David’s will giving everything to Peggy, and David’s death certificate to Apple as proof of what was going on. Apple’s response: they refused to help unless Peggy got a court order requiring them to.

Enter the media coverage and the public ridicule. Apple walked back its previous position by saying the whole thing was a misunderstanding and are now helping the Bush family without a court order.

But, of course, not everyone is going to want to run to the media every time something like this happens, whether it’s Apple or not. The best way to avoid issues is to plan ahead:

1. Login Book

Sit down with your spouse and talk about all of the accounts that would be important to have access to in the event something happened to either of you. Bank accounts, social media, utility vendors, etc. Your fantasy football account through Yahoo! Sports probably isn’t that important to your spouse. Write down the website, account name, and password in a notebook or save it on the family computer in a private place known only to you and your spouse. This will have to be updated anytime a password is changed or an account is cancelled, but it will at least get you to plan ahead.

2. Password Managers

Companies like LastPass allow members to sign up for a subscription to store all of your passwords in one place and assists you while you log in. It charges a small fee, but it frees you from remembering passwords or having them written down somewhere (security). LastPass is not unique, but it’s an established and known brand.

Whatever you do, make sure you plan ahead to save your family from going through what Peggy Bush went through.

Paul A. Yokabitus