This AP story is making its way around the community -- Jerald Spangleberg's daughter was faced with a growing problem when he passed a way: figuring out how to notify the guy's in-game friends. As online relationships grow more and more prevalent, relatives of those who pass away are often having trouble notifying some of the deceased closest friends. Even Blizzard can't help in this situation, apparently -- they have no policy or rules to deal with players who have died, and no way for relatives to log in to the game without the password to let guilds know what has happened.
You might suggest that these relationships aren't that big a deal, but when you think that guildies are encountered almost nightly, while real-life friends connect only when schedules allow (maybe once or twice a week), you can see why it might be important to let the ingame associates know what has happened. Unfortunately, all of the solutions so far are pretty morbid -- there are sites that will send email for you, or some players have left lists of contacts to reach when they move on.
The importance of online relationships is likely to increase in the future if the past few years are any indication. And given that the average player is getting older even as they're making more and stronger friends online, it might not be long until we've got a much better solution to deal with this problem.