Probate – What happens to your Apple account when you die?

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Apple account - what happens when you die?

Apple offers a number of ways to deal with your account on death. 

Apple is now one of many accounts/profiles that our executors need to deal with on our death, in addition to the traditional process of ‘probate’. This collection of online profiles/accounts is often now referred to as our ‘digital estate‘.  So, how can you deal with an Apple account death?

Getting access to an Apple ID after death

Obviously, if you have made your executors aware of your Apple ID login credentials, then they should be able to access it in the event of your passing.  This (in part) raises the question of having a ‘digital will’ (see below).

What is Apple’s Legacy Contact?

Apple allows the opportunity to manage during your lifetime what happens to your ID when you die.  This is via their ‘legacy contact’ facility.

Check out Apple’s support on How to add a Legacy Contact for your Apple ID

In short, having appointed a legacy contact, you/they will be issued with a legacy contact access key that will allow access to your ID in the event of you passing.

How does a Legacy Contact get access to my ID?

Your legacy contact can request access to your Apple ID here – Request access to a deceased friend or family member account

Apple will also ask to see proof of the passing – eg death certificate.

What if I haven’t appointed a Legacy Contact?

Apple has provision to grant access (subject to privacy policy) on proof of entitlement to gain that access.  So for example, in the UK that would be by producing the appropriate court order known as the Grant of Probate.

Can the activation lock be removed from devices?

Yes, and Apple can help with this.  Check out their customer support – How to remove Activation Lock

Can a Digital Will deal with my Apple ID?

Our ever-growing digital footprint is shining a light on to best deal with our social media and other online accounts when we die.  Many have no financial value, and equally, many will simply lock/close down after a period of inactivity post death.  However, if you want to help your executors with this, a ‘digital will’ is the answer.

A digital will is not legally binding, and indeed is a ‘concept’ that has arisen (and named) informally in response to the growth of our online footprint.  There is no requisite format or process of execution.

In essence, a digital will is cross between a ‘letter of wishes’, and an inventory.  It is intended to simply list login credentials for each of your online accounts/profiles, along with an instruction as to what you would like to happen.

With the login credentials to hand, your executors do not need to formally ‘register’ the death with each provider.  It can be as simple as a list/table.  The practical difficulty of course is keeping something like that up to date as our login credentials (in particular passwords) change so often.

Dealing with other social media accounts

Read more about what needs to/can happen to happen by clicking on each one below:

  • Facebook – they do provide facility for memorialising the profile, as well as nominating a legacy contact during your lifetime.
  • Twitter/X – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Snapchat – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • TikTok – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Instagram – they do provide facility for memorialising the profile.
  • Pinterest – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • YouTube – there is no opportunity to memorialise the profile.

Probate Solicitors

If you haven’t already – do check out our many other guides on all aspects of probate (plus other areas of law).  We’re working hard to demystify the legal world, and provide information that we hope is helpful.  Do remember that our guides are just that – generic explanations of legal areas, and they are NOT intended to be legal advice specific to you.  But, our team of expert estate planning lawyers are ready to help if you do need specific advice.  Do reach out by leaving a comment below, emailing us, or calling.  A big thank you from all at Team QLAW!

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