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How to request access to a deceased family member’s Apple account

We all save important documents, memories, and more on our Apple devices and in iCloud. But, how can we access the data from a loved one's devices after they die?
Accessing a Deceased Loved One’s Apple Accounts

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There are over 1 billion iPhones in use right now. And according to Statistica, 43% of the U.S. population uses an iPhone. That works out to be over 113 million people. When you factor in iPads, Macbooks, Apple Watches, iCloud and iTunes there are even more people with Apple accounts. 

Those accounts can have a lot of information and media stored on them. And Apple is well-known for offering superior account security. So what is a family member supposed to do if a loved one passes away and they need to access their Apple account? This overview will show you the steps you need to take to gain access. 

See If Your Loved One Set Up a Legacy Contact

There are a lot of steps that must be taken immediately after a death, and accessing various accounts is one of them. Apple gives its users a way to control their accounts even after death. 

Users can set up a Legacy Contact for their Apple ID. This specifies who can access your accounts if you should die. The Legacy Contact can access their loved ones’ stored documents and media, except licensed media that was purchased. 

The Legacy Contact must reach out to Apple and request access to a loved one’s account. You can do this through an Apple device you own that an access key was sent to or you can make the request through Apple’s Digital Legacy website. You’ll need to prove that you’re the assigned Legacy Contact and provide a death certificate.

Of course, a Legacy Contact must be set up in advance so if someone passes unexpectedly accessing accounts this way may be impossible. 

Get the Activation Lock Removed on Apple Devices

Another way to access information and data in the accounts if you have a loved one’s Apple ID is to remove the Activation Lock on their Apple device. Just keep in mind the only way Apple can remove the passcode lock is by erasing all the data on the device. So you’ll need to know the password for the device to access everything on it. 

If you plan to use a loved one’s device with your own Apple ID the device will have to be restored to factory settings first. That means you’ll need to save all of the information and media on the device before attempting to use a different Apple ID. 

Get a Court Order to Access an Apple Account

If your loved one didn’t set up a Legacy Contact there’s another way to gain access to their Apple account. The U.S. allows the inheritor of someone’s personal information to obtain a court order that gives them access to the accounts. The court order will need to include:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The Apple ID of the deceased.
  • The name of the person requesting access to the deceased’s account.
  • Statement the deceased was the user of accounts connected to the Apple ID.
  • Proof the person requesting access has lawful consent.
  • Statement that the court orders Apple to help the requestor gain access to the deceased’s accounts and related information. 

Once you have the court order you’ll need to contact Apple Support to submit it. 

If you need help planning an eco-friendly cremation that allows you to focus on other tasks like accessing accounts, please give the team at Green Cremation Texas a call, text or email anytime. We’re available seven days a week.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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