It is not customary to talk about this topic and it is unpleasant for everyone. Nevertheless, it is worth preparing for the inevitable – one day we will leave this world. Sometimes this happens unexpectedly, when a person does not have time to dispose of his affairs. And in order not to leave our loved ones without access to the necessary information, to documents and accounts, giving them additional trouble, it is better to prepare for this situation. Someone will have to take over after your death.
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People are handing over different things as they prepare to leave, but access to digital information should also be part of that training. After all, for convenience, we store important documents, contacts, passwords and financial information on our devices. But can relatives get access to this data after the death of the owner?
Unfortunately, there is no simple and correct answer that would provide all the options for transferring the digital life we have realized. But we will try to at least discuss what will happen to the user’s Apple ID and iCloud account after his death. Based on the information collected, some options for action will be proposed. Perhaps this will help you and your loved ones prepare for the unexpected.
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What will happen to the data in iCloud and Apple ID account after the death of the owner?
When you created your iCloud account, you were given the opportunity to review the terms provided by Apple. But, let’s be frank, few people read the agreement, and even written in small letters, or are specifically looking for a part dedicated to the death of the user. However, you have agreed, including that your account is not transferable. Therefore, if you suddenly die, then the other person will not be able to legally take over your account. This is exactly what the agreement says:
D. No inheritance rights.
Unless otherwise required by law, you agree that your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to that Apple ID or Content in your Account will expire upon your death. Upon receipt of a copy of the death certificate, your Account may be closed and all Content in your Account may be deleted. For further clarification, contact iCloud Support at https://support.apple.com/icloud.
So you don’t have to worry – there is an outright prohibition to transfer your credentials to Apple ID. But another problem immediately arises – it is necessary to provide access to digital information to the right people in the event of the death of the owner. Perhaps relatives will need documents of the deceased or his passwords from other accounts, for which access to the Apple ID is needed.
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Can relatives access a deceased person’s Apple ID
In theory, yes. Apple offers a helpful document in this situation. “Requesting access to the Apple accounts of a deceased family member”… Be sure to read the information in full. To summarize, the family of the deceased will need a court order and some information to gain access to the account of their deceased relative.
The court decision must indicate:
- The name and Apple ID of the deceased person.
- The name of the next of kin requesting access to the deceased’s account.
- Confirmation that the deceased was a user of all accounts associated with their Apple ID.
- The applicant is the legal personal representative, agent or heir of the deceased, whose permission constitutes a legally “lawful consent”.
- The court instructs Apple to help provide access to the deceased person’s account information.
Once a family member of the deceased receives this information, they should contact Apple Support for further assistance.
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Can relatives access a deceased person’s iPhone, iPad or other Apple devices
One important note on the above: While the family can get help from Apple to access the deceased relative’s account, Apple will not be able to unlock the iPhone, iPad, or other consumer device.
… Devices are password-locked or encrypted, and if next of kin do not know the device’s password, then Apple cannot remove the device’s password lock without completely erasing the device’s storage.
So, if you have an iPhone and no one knows the password but you, the only thing Apple can do in the event of your death is to help a family member wipe everything off the phone. And it might be okay if relatives can access your account and digital assets through iCloud.com. Perhaps you saved documents in iCloud Drive, then the heirs can get this information. If you paid for subscriptions, then relatives can cancel them. But as far as any password or finance program on the iPhone is concerned, it will most likely fail to be accessed.
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What can be done in advance?
Here are some tips on what you can do in preparation. Make a list of your digital assets, decide who you can trust to fulfill your last desires, and understand who in your life is tech-savvy enough to take care of digital items like your Apple ID and iCloud account.
If you already have a will or inheritance planthen talk to your lawyer or probate about adding your digital assets there too. You can also designate a digital data controller who will take care of your accounts and digital assets.
Write down your usernames and passwords on a piece of paper and store them in a safe place, such as a safe or with your attorney. While not entirely ideal, since passwords change frequently, you can keep the most important ones in a safe place and update the list as needed. You should also select a family member to act as your representative with access to this information, and then provide this name to your lawyer.
Store a password protected document with all usernames, passwords and account information. You can update it as passwords change and share the document with someone close to you, but it is better to keep the password with your attorney or mention it in your will so that it becomes known to the right people when the time comes.
Set up emergency access, if possible. Services like LastPass offer an emergency access feature. This allows the user of your choice to access your account in the event of your death.
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It is worth preparing for the unexpected. While it’s frustrating to think about it, and most family members don’t want to talk about it, it’s hard to deny the inevitable – one day we will be gone. You can ease your family’s burden by preparing for the day before it’s too late.