Apple denies dead woman's family from using her iPad

Apple has denied the family of a dead British woman the access to her iPad and Apple ID rendering the associated iPad useless for them.

According to UberGizmo who reported about the incident, the deceased woman, Anthea, left behind the iPad for the family to continue using but had not disclosed her Apple ID and password to them. Anthea's son, Josh Grant, provided Apple with the death certificate to obtain access to her Apple ID in order to get the iPad to work. However, Apple asked him to bring a court order proving Anthea's ownership of the iPad, citing company's privacy policy making things complicated for the family.

Speaking in a radio interview, Josh said that the family just wanted the iPad to work and did not understand what Apple was looking to establish from the proof of ownership court order. So far the family has provided Apple with the death certificate, copy of the will and a solicitor's letter, but the company wants proof that Anthea was the owner of the iPad and iTunes account. The solicitor involved in the matter is believed to be charging 200 pounds per hour which would eventually make the used iPad a bad deal.

It's not the first time, and won't be the last that companies continue to slip up and show little sensitivity in times of bereavement. Last year Virgin Media UK was lambasted when a bill they sent to a deceased man that included a fine for late or missed payment went viral on Facebook, the company had already successfully billed the man, but the bank returned the funds with a note stating the payer was deceased, which triggered the £10 fine. .

Source: UberGizmo | Image via The Full Signal

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89 Comments

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This is why, in my safety deposit box I have a sealed package called "instructions" it explains my entire home network. Where everything is located and where to find stuff. What the passwords are to anything that is password protected. The passwords to every site I have a password to on the internet.

Just curious. I assume you follow good password policy and update them regularly? If so how often do you update the contents of the sealed package as well?

Romero said,
Just curious. I assume you follow good password policy and update them regularly? If so how often do you update the contents of the sealed package as well?

No i'm not going around and updating all my site passwords. they are all as random as 1qC7gHGwHqJo1 I see no reason to change them regularly.

I have 1 update i'm going to put in their next week. Mainly for some new computer passwords.

DaveBG said,
They are the modern version of him...

Totally. Would not be shocked if Apple invade Poland at some point.

I understand the logic behind making it difficult for thieves to gain access, but they sent a death certificate.. I don't understand how apple doesn't compare the name on the death certificate with the name on the itunes account which would have her real name that goes along with her credit card/banking info, or am I (quite possibly) missing something obvious here?

and what about the data and pictures? apple has stolen them. Apple is only lending their devices. you cannot buy iPhone or iPad, you pay and they give it to you to use it. it is not yours.

Some the comments are just downright sad. The family has spent more money and time than this thing is worth from a ROI perspective. They want it because it was a wish from her. Maybe it also contains pictures and other things that will keep her memory alive in their hearts and minds for years to come. Otherwise its just another iPad. My close friends daughter died at 21 due to a head on collision and many of her pictures were in her iPhone. They had to go to hell and back to get access to her daughters phone from Apple. Same situation. She wanted the pictures contained in it for keepsake. She wanted a few videos of her daughter weeks before she passed. She would have paid anything to get them. Fortunately for her I was able to help her and I got a manager that cared enough to help her and I. We showed all documentation and it wasn't easy to re-explain the death of her child. It took a lot of calls to get this done. I was personally pissed at Apple until I connected with a caring manager at Apple.

I hope no one has to go through this because its exhausting, frustrating and emotionally draining.

I hope they succeed and Apple comes to their senses.

deadonthefloor said,

Exactly.
No one should be put through this.

Sadly, neither do those attempting to gain access in illegitimate cases. Kind of a vicious circle really.

Hey Apple. When the NSA came to you and said we needed a backdoor to iOS and your severs, did you give them and equal hard time? Or was the Secret Service flashing their badges enough?

I do understand they have to be careful. But if they proved they are the persons family, what more do they need to prove.

What the title makes the article sound like:

"Aww your dead mother left you an iPad and you don't know the password? Sucks to be you. If you want an iPad go buy another one mwhahahha" *Tim Cook now rolls in his money*

What the article actually said:

Apple need more proof before they are willing to release details of the account. These are obviously distressing in such a time but are there to provide guards against fraud and abuse for all.

Joswin said,
What the title makes the article sound like:

"Aww your dead mother left you an iPad and you don't know the password? Sucks to be you. If you want an iPad go buy another one mwhahahha" *Tim Cook now rolls in his money*

What the article actually said:

Apple need more proof before they are willing to release details of the account. These are obviously distressing in such a time but are there to provide guards against fraud and abuse for all.

More proof that a valid death certificate, a solicitors letter, valid idea etc... gimmie a break.

MikeChipshop said,

More proof that a valid death certificate, a solicitors letter, valid idea etc... gimmie a break.

No. More proof that it was her account.... not that she is dead.

For the people that are moaning a dieing woman should have remembered to give her account details i say this,

Maybe she didn't know she had to, hell my mother doesn't even know she needs an account, no matter how maybe times i tell her it, all she wants is to use it.


Lots of assumptions, never will know really

techbeck said,
Why I am going to pick a trusted family member and give them passwords for some of my accounts.
Or leave a letter in your will for that person, that way they don't have access while you're still alive but they will when you die

Rudy said,
Or leave a letter in your will for that person, that way they don't have access while you're still alive but they will when you die

I could. But things change and it is easier to update/give it to someone. Plus, I have family members I know wont poke around in my things.

techbeck said,
Why I am going to pick a trusted family member and give them passwords for some of my accounts.
Well in many peoples family, more than one person has access to the same Apple ID especially if they buy multiple devices. My wife and my sister use my Apple ID because I am the one who purchased the iPad's they use. OS thus I am not the only users who know the ID and password.

Why is that so hard to understand?! So it is pretty surprising no one else had access.

It's called a backup buddy. Friend of mine and me both have the agreement that upon our death, our electronics go to each other to ensure certain data is deleted and redistributed properly.

dead.cell said,
It's called a backup buddy. Friend of mine and me both have the agreement that upon our death, our electronics go to each other to ensure certain data is deleted and redistributed properly.

Good plan

dead.cell said,
It's called a backup buddy. Friend of mine and me both have the agreement that upon our death, our electronics go to each other to ensure certain data is deleted and redistributed properly.
+1000 for you sir.

I read this yesterdayand the article stated that this was now resolved. It also said that there wasn't anything on it that they wanted. They just wanted the iPad usable

Why? If Apple gave them access, then the government could gain access. There should be no way for Apple to give access to the files.

Rosyna said,
Why? If Apple gave them access, then the government could gain access. There should be no way for Apple to give access to the files.

Actually, there should be as long as the proper approval goes through. There needs to be safe guards but everything is electronic/digital these days. Important info/documents could be stored on these devices.

Rosyna said,
Why? If Apple gave them access, then the government could gain access. There should be no way for Apple to give access to the files.

Don't be so daft. Some jobsworth at Apple has caused this stupid issue. They're perfectly able to hand over the account to the family they're just being stubborn p****

Rosyna said,
Why? If Apple gave them access, then the government could gain access. There should be no way for Apple to give access to the files.

You really think this system prevents the government from accessing the device? That really is naive.

Guys I think you are all missing the point. You say reset the device, but the problem is, since iOS7 has came out, even to restore the device you need to input the owners Apple ID and Password, otherwise you can't even go through the final part of the restore procedure!

ThisIsStockerHD said,
Guys I think you are all missing the point. You say reset the device, but the problem is, since iOS7 has came out, even to restore the device you need to input the owners Apple ID and Password, otherwise you can't even go through the final part of the restore procedure!

Even with a DFU full reset?

U wot... That's crazy. It's funny, I used to like iOS and its integration to iTunes, but now it's the iTunes integration that drives me nuts. Glad I ditched iOS.

I changed my iPhone for an android as I was fed up of IOS / iTunes asking for my password for everything, and now you're saying they've added yet another action that requires entering a password! Glad I switched.

It's definitely inconvenient, but now I'm wondering if they did this to keep stolen devices useless. It should still be an option the user should be able to disable though. Maybe it's another layer to prevent jailbreaking. Another reason I'm glad I have Android, custom firmwares to choose from, and no need to jailbreak my device.

i don't really get the problem, why don't they reset the device.

I understand apples reluctance, what if there is a dispute and some long lost son claims ownership and wants the iPad where does that leave apple.

They are not licencing the iPad they are free to do whatever they want with it, what they are trying to do is access her iCloud account which contains her iMessages, email etc.. thats a completely different issue to the iPad, the same problem could occur if they had a MacBook Air or iMac.

jamieakers said,
If my mother passed away the last thing I would care about is her iPad. First world problems.

Other peoples lives go on. I'm assuming they want to access her stuff that may be on there also. Would you not want a dead relatives memories?

MikeChipshop said,

Other peoples lives go on. I'm assuming they want to access her stuff that may be on there also. Would you not want a dead relatives memories?

If the iPad contained something the mother wanted to share with them she would have done. As it is, it could contain her inner secrets that she may have wanted to keep from her children to protect them. If they want to use the iPad just reset the device.

jamieakers said,

If the iPad contained something the mother wanted to share with them she would have done. As it is, it could contain her inner secrets that she may have wanted to keep from her children to protect them. If they want to use the iPad just reset the device.

I think you've watched too many movies. If i was on my death bed the last thing i'd remember (also, was this woman tech literate? Do we know she'd know such things?) would be my Apple password.

You know nothing of this lady, she could have been incapable of handing over the password for all we know. It's someone at Apple been an absolute jobs worth and they should be demoted back to retail if they think this is a smart way to behave.

jamieakers said,
If my mother passed away the last thing I would care about is her iPad. First world problems.

What a reprehensible thing to say. It's perfectly reasonable for the dead woman's family to want to access the device and there is no reasonable justification for Apple to deny that. To twist this round to criticise the family is extremely distasteful and shows a complete lack of empathy.

jamieakers said,
If my mother passed away the last thing I would care about is her iPad. First world problems.

Unless of course if she had SplashID or some other password security software installed on it that had even more importance. Perhaps they have already dealt with the other problems like funeral, burial, etc. I just think that apple could do something more that they are doing, they could at lease verify the name of the person the originally bought the device (based on serial number) and see if they are from the same family.

They charge you £500 for a license for the ipad, wtf... software to some extent yes but not a physical device costing that much. The thing is though if theyve banned the serial number or something of the device its pretty much useless, unless you download the IPSW file and restore/update manually through itunes but i dont think youd be able to access the itunes store or cloud back ups etc. Pathetic company, its like kicking you when your down.... bet they arent the only company that would do this though!

These things seem harsh but the policies are in place to protect their customers. It is a sensitive subject and one that will probably give Apple some bad press but if they can't prove she owns the iPad then they aren't going to give potentially random people access to an account.

Uplift said,
These things seem harsh but the policies are in place to protect their customers. It is a sensitive subject and one that will probably give Apple some bad press but if they can't prove she owns the iPad then they aren't going to give potentially random people access to an account.

I agree, if she did want them to use her iPad, why not give them the username and password?

Uplift said,
These things seem harsh but the policies are in place to protect their customers. It is a sensitive subject and one that will probably give Apple some bad press but if they can't prove she owns the iPad then they aren't going to give potentially random people access to an account.

Look at what they've already provided Apple, it's nothing to do with potentially giving random people access.

kosmusurfer33 said,

I agree, if she did want them to use her iPad, why not give them the username and password?

Ummm... maybe she had better things to think about... like dying.

MikeChipshop said,

Look at what they've already provided Apple, it's nothing to do with potentially giving random people access.

They have provides some documents that could potentially be forged in minutes. Now if the shoe was on the other foot and someone lost their account because Apple give access to some random hackers with nothing more than some scanned letters then there would be uproar.

Uplift said,

They have provides some documents that could potentially be forged in minutes. Now if the shoe was on the other foot and someone lost their account because Apple give access to some random hackers with nothing more than some scanned letters then there would be uproar.

Two minutes, phone solicitor, document confirmed. Any document can be forged. It's up to Apple to check the authenticity. That is how it works.

MikeChipshop said,

Two minutes, phone solicitor, document confirmed. Any document can be forged. It's up to Apple to check the authenticity. That is how it works.

If thats how it works then fair enough, but i would have thought it would be the other way around.. i.e.. solicitor phones Apple. I can't see Apple chasing people for this sort of stuff, if they want access to the account it's up to them to sort it.

In the UK you can access accounts by being the named Executor of the Estate in their will. If you aren't Executor and you withdraw funds from a bank account claiming you are the Executor then you have committed fraud.

I see no reason they could help them if they provide the original death certificate, original copy of the will along with two solid forms of identity with your picture and address. If you forge the info then off to court you go.

Uplift said,
i would have thought it would be the other way around.. i.e.. solicitor phones Apple
Do we know this hasn't already been tried, or perhaps Apple is unreasonably insisting that only a court order will suffice?

Uplift said,

If thats how it works then fair enough, but i would have thought it would be the other way around.. i.e.. solicitor phones Apple. I can't see Apple chasing people for this sort of stuff, if they want access to the account it's up to them to sort it.

That's the thing. They've provided legitimate legal documentation.

kosmusurfer33 said,

I agree, if she did want them to use her iPad, why not give them the username and password?

I don't want my kids in my bank account, but that doesn't mean that I don't want them to have its contents in the event of my death.

I think the people are missing the fact that Apple is not giving them access because they can not prove that the iPad was owned by the person who died, "Apple asked him to bring a court order proving Anthea's ownership of the iPad."

What they are giving is a will, and a death certificate, that does not prove the ipad in question did indeed belong to the person who died.

Blueclub said,
I think the people are missing the fact that Apple is not giving them access because they can not prove that the iPad was owned by the person who died, "Apple asked him to bring a court order proving Anthea's ownership of the iPad."

What they are giving is a will, and a death certificate, that does not prove the ipad in question did indeed belong to the person who died.

So how do they provide proof of ownership? Do they need a sales receipt with serial number? And if you own an ipad, and lets say it's 2-3 years old, do you think you would have the receipt?

uxo22 said,

So how do they provide proof of ownership? Do they need a sales receipt with serial number? And if you own an ipad, and lets say it's 2-3 years old, do you think you would have the receipt?

It's just an unfortunate incident, forget the iPad and move on, surely there is more important things going on in their lives, if it holds sentimental value then i can understand frustration, but i cannot fault Apple one bit for not allowing access without a court order. You would think members on Neowin would know how easy it is to forge some documents, get something official looking and change the names.. and you're expecting to be able to scan them, send them to Apple and have them hand over account details? I'm glad it isn't this easy!

uxo22 said,
So how do they provide proof of ownership? Do they need a sales receipt with serial number? And if you own an ipad, and lets say it's 2-3 years old, do you think you would have the receipt?

I do not know, Apple is not asking for the proof, but a court order that the iPad did belong to the person who died. Its up to the court to decide, and ask for relevant proof.

Uplift said,

It's just an unfortunate incident, forget the iPad and move on, surely there is more important things going on in their lives, if it holds sentimental value then i can understand frustration, but i cannot fault Apple one bit for not allowing access without a court order. You would think members on Neowin would know how easy it is to forge some documents, get something official looking and change the names.. and you're expecting to be able to scan them, send them to Apple and have them hand over account details? I'm glad it isn't this easy!

I agree, but at least apple could allow for the device to be reset to factory specs so that they can use it if nothing else.

uxo22 said,

I agree, but at least apple could allow for the device to be reset to factory specs so that they can use it if nothing else.


But how does Apple know that the ipad they will reset does indeed belonged to the person who died?

A will does not prove that this specific ipad in question did indeed belong to the dead person..

Presumably they'd have access to her email, therefore could just use the iforgot.apple.com thing to have a reset link.

Wall-swe said,
Why would they have access to her email?

Maybe because she passed away? I realise it's not always the case, but there's no reason to suggest they wouldn't have access to the account...

Raa said,

Maybe because she passed away? I realise it's not always the case, but there's no reason to suggest they wouldn't have access to the account...

Nothing to suggest they WOULD...

Maybe plausible to think she used POP email and outlook(or etc) doesn't ask for a pw everytime you check your mail, if it was setup for easy access..

Yeah but they want the info that was on it (photos, videos, docs, contacts) and her iTunes account. The article summary could have been worded better, it's not really the iPad that's useless to them for the sake of having the iPad, it's that it's useless for their purposes in its current state.

No they can't.
Once the iPad tries to re-activate after the restore, the Apple servers will prompt for the Apple ID account to be entered to verify the activation.

The system was tightened to deter theft. You pretty much need the apple ID details to "unauthorise" the device from the previous user.

Unplugged said,
The system was tightened to deter theft. You pretty much need the apple ID details to "unauthorise" the device from the previous user.

Yeah, but damn, one would thing since the lady died and a death certificate was produced that Apple would allow them to reset the password and apple ID. Who knew?

Lol, allot of things these days you only pay for a licence to use it not to own it. Kinda silly though. It's like the whole can't sell an ipad, iphone with music on it due to copyright music and stuff.

Getting kind of silly now isn't it?

The restrictions are put on to protect the devices against theft. Something that affects a lot more of the demographic than the odd person dying.

As inconvenient as it is the procedure for circumnavigating these restrictions shouldn't be easy (not impossible granted and this is perhaps overkill) however difficult enough to deter theifs from bothering.

I think people are missing the fact that Apple is not giving them access because they can not prove that the iPad was owned by the person who died, "Apple asked him to bring a court order proving Anthea's ownership of the iPad."

What they are giving is a will, and a death certificate, that does not prove the ipad in question did indeed belong to the person who died.

Blueclub said,
What they are giving is a will, and a death certificate, that does not prove the ipad in question did indeed belong to the person who died.

It would be very easy for Apple to confirm the dead woman's Apple ID is the one used on the iPad. Apple is being an ###### over this.