You’ve probably heard the joke that in 50 years, social media will turn into digital graveyards. Say, the people who used them will start to die actively, and their accounts will turn into a kind of virtual tombstones. Sounds creepy, I agree. But if you think about it, then social networks are far from the only sites that risk turning into digital cemeteries. In this sense, cloud storage, which stores much more data, run the risk of becoming a kind of tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs altogether. Therefore, it is interesting to know what Apple plans to do with the data of deceased users.

What happens to Apple ID and iPhone if a person dies?
What happens to Apple ID and iPhone if a person dies?

iCloud of a deceased person and the contents of the cloud remains with him

It may seem strange that such a question even occurs to someone. However, as it turned out, Apple has a pre-written behavior scenario even for such a not very pleasant case.

Apple ID after the death of a person

What happens to Apple ID and iPhone if a person dies?

Apple keeps users’ data safe even after their death.

The iCloud account, along with the cloud storage contents, cannot be transferred to the deceased user’s heirs. About it spelled out in the user agreement, which we all accept upon registration:

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.

As you can see, Apple is not going to actively search for owners of unused accounts and check their health. The company allows relatives to independently inform her about the user’s death by providing an appropriate conclusion, in which case the report can be deleted. Please note that deletion is not guaranteed. In any case, Apple leaves room for maneuver by using the qualifying term “may” in the agreement.

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How to access a deceased person’s Apple ID?

What happens to Apple ID and iPhone if a person dies?

A deceased person’s iCloud data can only be accessed by court order.

However, this does not mean that access to the account and content of a deceased person’s cloud storage is impossible at all. In fact, it is possible, and this is stated in the supplementary document, where Apple describes how to access your account. The main requirement presented in Cupertino to the deceased’s relatives is the presence of a court decision, which would indicate the urgent need to study the deceased user’s cloud storage.

To qualify for access, you must submit the following documents to Apple:

  • The name of the deceased user and the name of his Apple ID account;
  • Full name of the person who requests access to the deceased’s Apple ID account;
  • Confirmation that the deceased was the owner of this account;
  • Confirmation that the applicant is a relative, heir, or legal representative of the deceased;
  • A court order requiring Apple to grant access to an account.
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By and large, the list is logical and quite adequate. It is not very clear what kind of confirmation that the deceased really was the owner of the account Apple needs. I think that a photograph of the former owner will do, since Apple has the ability to analyze the pictures of its users, and it will not be difficult for it to compare them with each other.

How to unlock iPhone if a person died?

What happens to Apple ID and iPhone if a person dies?

You can get access to the device of a deceased person but without data.

As for the iPhone or iPad of deceased users, Apple has no exceptions to access their content. The only thing that Cupertino can help you with if you don’t know the device password is to reset it to factory settings by deleting all data and passwords. True, it will be necessary to confirm the fact of death and kinship or the presence of a will. However, the exact list of documents is agreed upon individually depending on the circumstances.

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It’s great that Apple does not plan to rip off the deceased’s relatives, forcing them to pay his bills. If necessary, you can request the cancellation of all paid subscriptions. Obviously, this can be done with the same package of documents to gain access to the device. Therefore, you will most likely not have to submit a separate petition. However, it is not specified whether it will be possible to cancel the payments already made to return the money paid from the moment of death to the transfer of access to the device.


Ruby has been a writer and author for a while, and her content appears all across the tech world, from within ReadWrite, BusinessMagazine, ThriveGlobal, etc.

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