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Monday, October 19, 2020

Widow in four-year battle with Apple to get access to deceased husband's account

Most of you have heard of digital assets by now, though I suspect many readers still think they don't own any digital assets. If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, air miles, email, or passwords (not to mention the hardware on which those sites are accessed) then you own digital assets. I urge you to read a new story from CBC news that talks about Carol Ann Noble of Toronto by clicking here. 

Mrs. Noble's husband died four years ago. Despite the fact that Mrs. Noble is the executor of his estate and the sole beneficiary of his estate, she is still battling with Apple for access to an account that was in her husband's name. They are making it expensive and difficult for her - and for many others - to deal with assets that often have sentimental as well as financial value.

One of the biggest problems is that corporations such as Facebook, Apple, and Google, are American and are therefore not bound by our rules of claiming estate assets. There are other complications of course, such as privacy laws and the fine print of the "terms and conditions" we all click on when we open online accounts.

This isn't going to go away any time soon. There is a lot that has to be done for the law and procedures to catch up with changing technology. But there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of you or your family getting caught up in one of these protracted legal battles, such as:

1. In your will, give your executor the specific power to deal with digital assets. Make sure it covers everything from stored photos to email. Also ensure that it gives the power to do anything from delete to take over the accounts/assets.

2. Also ensure your Enduring Power of Attorney contains a similar provision.

3. Record your passwords where your spouse or executor can find them. Your will is not the place to do this, since some places will require you to change your passwords from time to time and you don't want to keep changing your will. Just use something simple from a yellow post-it note to a spiral-bound notebook. Keep your household situation in mind, as you do not want to make your passwords readily available if several people use or have access to your computer. Use your best judgment about where to keep your passwords. One of the places you can record these is in our planning workbook called "For My Family With Love." Click on the title to see/purchase one. 


  1. Excellent. It's time for an update.


  2. Scarier than receiving Apple's at Halloween?



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