How to unlock an Apple device when the owner dies


If you’ve recently lost a friend or family member, you may want to access your loved one’s phone, computer, or tablet to retrieve personal information. Whether you’re looking for pictures, passwords or other information, it’s frustrating if you don’t know the password to access it.

I have put together the steps you need to follow to unlock an Apple device in case the owner dies.

This first step only works if the late owner of the device backed up the data to iCloud. Although it is easy to enable automatic backup, sometimes Apple users forget it and photos and data can only be on the phone, tablet or computer.

If you don’t know the owner’s password or password, check if he has your iCloud login. iCloud login uses email, so try common passwords or see if they’ve left a list of passwords.

If you have access to iCloud and have backed up their data, you can access many of your data, including photos, through iCloud.com. Check if the owner’s device is signed in to iCloud automatically, and if not, follow the steps below.

Using iCloud.com to access data

On another device, go to iCloud.com. It is best to do this on a computer.

Sign in with the owner’s Apple ID.

If you are successfully signed in, you will be able to access the user’s mail, contacts, calendar, photos, cloud drive, notes, reminders, and several other applications that are in use.

You can download photos directly from iCloud.com.

If you don’t have access to your Apple ID, but you do have access to the user’s email, check if their login is automatically saved on their device, such as another computer or tablet.

You can download photos directly from iCloud.com.
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Using email to access data on iPhone, iPad, Mac

On another device, go to iCloud.com; it’s best to do it on a computer.

Forgot your Apple ID or password?

Use the user’s iCloud email address to reset the password.

Open the user’s email account and you should see an email with instructions on how to restore your iCloud account.

Once you have a new login, use iCloud.com to sign in and follow the steps above for using an iCloud account to access your data.

People on smartphones.
In case of unexpected death, you can install the old contact on your devices.
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Does the device owner have an old contact?

Many Apple users may not know that you can restore old contact on your devices in case of unexpected death. If the owner of the device installed the old contact, this information should be very easy to access. Legacy contacts are available on iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, or macOS 12.1 or later.

If your deceased loved one has an old contact, visit Apple’s Digital Legacy to request access.

Tip for Apple users: Set up an old contact if you haven’t already.

How to request access to a device without iCloud access

If none of the above steps worked and you want to ask Apple for access to your deceased loved one’s iCloud login, a court order may be required.

In the court decision, you must indicate the following information:

Deceased’s name and Apple ID number.

The name of the next of kin who requested access to the deceased’s account.

The deceased was the user of all accounts associated with the Apple ID.

The petitioner is the legal personal representative, representative or heir of the deceased, whose authority constitutes “legal consent”.

Apple is then ordered by the court to help secure access to the deceased’s data from the deceased’s accounts. The court order should be sent to the following address respective Apple organization.

You can visit an Apple Store or contact Apple Support for alternatives.

How to make sure that loved ones have access to your information

In the event of an emergency or death, you want to make sure your loved ones can access your information. Make sure someone you trust has written down your login details and/or passwords in a safe, secure place. That way, they can access your photos and other phone apps without going through a court order or complicated reset process.

If your phone provider offers a legacy connection option, set it up now.

If you use social media, platforms like Facebook offer the ability to name someone as your old contact.

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