This is a tricky situation. But, I suspect a decent work around would be to just get the password to the Account, which could be done through verification to AST. Or.... Apple could possibly issue new credits and unadopt or something.
It would be best to email this here for options:
iTunes Store Support
You may want to get the serial of the Mac Mini handy.
Thanks for your reply. I will try that link. I did not think about iTunes Store support.
Yes, it would be great if we could get her deceased husband's password, or access his email account. But, unfortunately, he took that info to his grave. So that won't work. She'd need access to his old Apple ID email to reset his password, right?
What is AST?
I would suggest that she contact Apple Care directly, provide proof if requested that her husband is deceased and request that the Mac mini be released from his Apple ID. She should then be able to use OS X Recovery to erase the HDD and install the most recent version of the version os OS X that shipped with the mini, as well as, the iLife apps using OS X Recovery.
OS X Recovery -
As Apple does not transfer content from one ID to another or merge Apple IDs for anyone, any other software that the husband purchased from the Mac App Store may be lost and would need to be deleted and repurchased.
AST = Account Security Team.
Generally they only deal with the account holder, but they may make an exception here due to the circumstances. As long as you know the Apple ID, they may still be able to aid in resetting the password due to validation. If there was a credit card on the account, that may be one peice of validation they can use, though they will ask others.
After all, you don't want Apple to rest people's passwords for just anyone. I would not be surprised if this takes more than one phone call.
Account Security Team (AST)
Check the AppleCare number for your country here:
Call them up, and let them know you would like to be transferred to the Account Security Team.
HT5312: Rescue email address and how to reset Apple ID security questions
I was planning to contact AppleCare tomorrow and see if we could do something along those lines. It's good to know that we should try to go directly to the AST. I'll post the results after we have tried this.
Surely this situation is not that unusual. It doesn't make sense that one should have to erase the entire drive and re-install the OS just to change the associated Apple ID and re-authorize the software that came with the computer less than a year ago.
There should be no need to re-install anything. Unless you are talking about a different user account you can't sign into? The apps generally keep ownership under the Apple ID that accepted/purchased them, and generally can not be transfered to another ownership. If someone could reset the password of the original ID (by the AST), then that is all you need. Just remember that Apple ID and password from now on for updates, etc.