Who owns your digital afterlife?

SAN JOSE, Calif. When a landlord discovered the body of bestselling novelist Marsha Mehran last year in a seaside Irish cottage, the 36-year-old had left behind a trove of literary work. Some of it, such as the international hit "Pomegranate Soup," can be found in libraries and bookstores around the world. Other writings were stuck in the Internet cloud, including a password-protected account that only Google knew how to open. What happens to our emails, online searches, or in Mehran's case digital manuscripts, when we die? It took costly legal maneuvers this summer stretching from Australia to Silicon Valley for her grieving father to find out. "I wanted to know if...