Death most often comes to people unexpectedly. Civilized people are preparing for this inevitable event, leaving their affairs in order. Hardly anyone wants relatives to have to sort out complicated cases and quarrel over inheritance. But lately, most of our lives are generally stored in digital form – accounts, accounts, photos and videos. Virtual data also requires some kind of transfer to heirs. Apple has addressed this issue with the introduction of the Digital Legacy feature.
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How do I access a deceased relative’s Apple account?
It’s no secret that millions of people store valuable information on their Apple devices as well as in the iCloud cloud. For Apple, privacy is an important area, but in the event of a user’s death, the company offers ways to either gain access to the account or completely delete it, along with all content.
Apple can also help you remove the Activation Lock from Apple ID devices (unlock iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.) of a deceased person, but you will have to perform a factory reset to change the account. A passcode lock involves data encryption, so that protection cannot be removed without deleting them. For the sake of data security, Apple still asks for some legal documents before granting access to the ID of a deceased person. Usually this is a death certificate, but sometimes other documents may be required. In fact, loved ones have three options for dealing with the Apple ID of the deceased person.
1. Final and complete removal Apple ID… When requesting this action, you must provide your ID, ID of the deceased person, and relevant legal documents.
2. Request access based on a court order or other similar documents… You can request access to a deceased person’s Apple ID if there is a court order recognizing the person as the legal heir to the personal information. The court order must state:
- Name and Apple ID of the deceased;
- The name of the relative requesting access to the account;
- Confirmation of the deceased’s use of accounts associated with an Apple ID.
- Confirmation of the right of the applicant to the court to be called the official representative or heir.
- Acknowledgment of Apple’s obligation to provide access to the deceased’s information based on this injunction.
3. Use the digital legacy feature (described in this article below)…
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Who is a digital heir?
In operating system versions for Apple devices starting with iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2 and macOS 12.1, it became possible to add your digital heir to your Apple ID. This is a very understandable and justified measure, because with its help you can give a trusted person access to information associated with the account of a deceased user. And the amount of digital heritage can be considerable: music, books, subscriptions, movies, passwords and payment information.
It is noteworthy that the digital heir himself does not have to have his own Apple ID. However, this person must be over 13 years old… And then, to gain access, the digital heir uses an access key previously created and transferred by the account owner, and a death certificate.
This request will be reviewed by Apple, based on the results of verification of the information provided, the heir will have access to the information of the deceased user. The digital heir will be given a special Apple ID, which will be used to access the desired account. And the original identifier will be blocked, and on all devices where it was previously active.
Account information will remain available for a limited time – three years… After this period, the account will be deleted without the possibility of recovery. There may be several digital heirs, all these people will have access to the account and can decide on its fate, including complete deletion.
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What information will be available to the digital heir?
The type of information that the digital heir will have access to depends on what the owner of the Apple ID account has stored in the iCloud cloud and backed up in iCloud. So, if the owner preferred to keep the documents in Google Drive, then this information will not be in the Apple ID data. Here is a complete list of the information that a digital heir can access:
- Backup in iCloud with all applications from the App Store, photos and videos from devices, their settings and more;
- iCloud photo;
- call history;
- Medical data;
- Recordings “Dictaphone”;
- Safari bookmarks and reading list from the browser;
- Messages app from iCloud;
- Files from iCloud Drive.
And here is a list of those data to which the digital heir will never receive access:
- In-app purchases: subscriptions, in-game currency, updates and similar content;
- Billing Information: Apple ID or Apple Pay payment cards.
- Licensed Materials: Music, books, movies previously purchased by the account holder.
- Information from the deceased account owner’s Keychain Access: Safari logins and passwords, accounts for the Mail, Contacts, and Messages apps, credit card numbers, Wi-Fi passwords.
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How to add a digital heir to your Apple ID?
First of all, several conditions must be met:
- Your Apple device must be running iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, or macOS Monterey 12.1. There you need to log in with your Apple ID.
- You need to enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID.
- The heir must be over 13 years old, but does not need to have an Apple ID.
You can specify several digital heirs at once in the parameters of your device. Once set up is complete, the Apple ID owner will receive an email confirming the addition or removal of the next digital heir to their account.
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Adding a Digital Heir to iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
1. Open the app “Settings” and tap the username.
2. Open item “Password and safety”and then go to the menu “Digital Heir”…
3. Touch the item “Appoint an heir”… At this step, you may need to log in with your Face ID, Touch ID, or device passcode.
4. Select a contact and follow the instructions on the screen.
If later you need to send the access key again, then to do this, go to the Digital heir menu and click on the name of the added heir.
An option will appear on the screen that allows you to print the key (save as a PDF) or send the key via iMessage.
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Add a digital heir on a Mac
1. Follow the path: menu Apple → System settings and go to the Apple ID section.
2. Now click on password and safety → Digital successor… Click the button “To rule”… If necessary, log in with Touch ID or a password to log into your computer.
3. Click Add, and then Appoint an heir and follow the instructions on the screen.
4. If you are a member of a family sharing group, you can select one of its members. Otherwise click on “Choose another person” and add one of your contacts using their phone number or email address.
5. Send the key via e-mail or print it on paper.
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You have been designated a digital heir. Where to find the key?
It won’t be too hard to find the passkey in your Apple ID settings if you have previously saved the key to your device. If a copy of the key was sent to you by a loved one as a document (for example, using a messenger or via e-mail), then it will need to be searched among the files.
Key saved in Apple ID settings
On iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
1. Go to the application “Settings” and click on your name.
2. Follow the path password and safety → Digital successor…
3. Now click on the name of the person whose digital heir you are to see their options, including viewing the access key and submitting an access request.
1. Navigate through the menu Apple → System settings and click on your Apple ID.
2. Now click on password and safety…
3. About group settings “Digital Heir” Press “To rule”…
4. Next to the username, click on “More”… This will give you the opportunity to see his access key and submit an access request.
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What if the access key is saved as a document?
Perhaps your loved one chose you as their digital heir and decided to send you an access key via email or message. Then you need to find it in your files. In addition, the key could be printed on paper and stored physically. Perhaps a copy of the key is generally part of the will and will be transferred to the heir only after the death of the owner of the Apple ID.
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What to do if the key cannot be found or is missing at all?
Apple respects the privacy of its users, so the company cannot access or reissue a lost key in any way. If you lost it or didn’t get it, then you will have to restore access to the Apple ID of the deceased based on court orders and legal documents.
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How can a digital heir request access to a deceased person’s Apple ID?
If an irreparable thing happened and a person close to you died, leaving you as a digital heir, then access to information can be requested directly from your Apple device with the current version of the system or using the Internet. Before accessing, make sure you have the key (see above) created for you as the digital heir and the death certificate of the owner of the Apple ID.
The key is best stored in a safe place, you will need it when you sign in to your Apple ID account as a digital heir after confirming the request.
Apple will send you an email acknowledging receipt of the request. For security, a similar message will also go to the Apple ID account box where you want to access. Each submitted request is checked and analyzed. Upon completion of the verification, the digital heir will receive an email notification and will know if access has been granted or additional information is required.
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How do I request access to a deceased person’s Apple ID on iPhone, iPad, or Mac?
If the key is saved in your Apple ID settings, you can submit the request directly from the device itself.
On iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
1. Open “Settings” and click on your name.
2. Follow the path password and safety → Digital Heir, and then click on the person’s name.
3. Now click on “Request access”, then the system will tell you how and where to send a person’s death certificate.
1. Navigate the menu path Apple → System settings, and then tap your Apple ID.
2. Then click on “Password and safety”…
3. About group settings “Digital Heir” Press “To rule”…
4. Now, next to the person’s name, click on “More”…
5. Finally, click on “Request access” and follow the system’s instructions to send Apple the death certificate of the person whose digital heir you are.
Request Internet Access
It may well be that you have both the person’s death certificate and the access key to their digital inheritance, but not the Apple device. Well, the request can be sent via the Internet.
1. Open the Digital Legacy – Access Request portal.
2. On this site, click on the blue button “Request access”… Next, you will need to either log in with your Apple ID or provide contact information.
3. The instructions on the site will help you verify your identity, then you will need to enter an access key and send a death certificate.
4. On the same resource in the section “Control” You can check the status of the submitted request.
Once your request is successfully resolved, the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, etc. owned by your loved one will be turned off Activation Lock (Apple ID Linking). These devices can be used with a different Apple ID, but only after a factory reset.