Locked out through a loss – iPad inheritance issues

the lock on the PC showing the protection of inheritance

News & Insights

Julie Hutchison

6th March 2014 at 5:37pm

Last week, I wrote about facebook’s extension of the support and options they offer to the friends and family of a deceased facebook user.*1 This week, digital legacy themes are back in the news, with reports of a standoff  between Apple and two sons who were bequeathed their late mother’s ipad.

According to the report, they don’t know their late mother’s Apple ID and password and as a result the device is locked.

Despite providing evidence of the death certificate, copy of the will and a solicitor’s letter, Apple has requested a court order to prove that their late mother was the owner of the iPad and the iTunes account.

The quick fix

This all might sound a bit extreme, but this news got me to thinking – what if something were to happen to me? I’d like a member of my family to be able to use my ipad.  So I’m going to store a note of my Apple ID and code to unlock the screen, ‘somewhere safe’ and make sure someone knows the location.

This is only a practical solution, and is not ideal from a security point of view.  I recognise it probably breaches security guidance, so I’m not actively recommending it.

A longer term solution

The better solution would be for tablet manufacturers to develop robust transfer and inheritance policies, to give workable solutions to the problems faced above.

I can see two types of solution which might be needed.

First, I might want someone to inherit my device, but not the content.  I might want someone to inherit my device, but not the content.  What’s needed is a way for someone to be permitted to activate a ‘return to factory settings’ exercise What’s needed is a way for someone to be permitted to activate a ‘return to factory settings’ exercise. It’s then a device for my loved one to use with their own account settings and passwords.

As an alternative, there might be photos or other content on my device which I’d like my loved ones to be able to access.  This is more of an ‘account transfer’ situation, and not a ‘return to factory settings’ solution.

Both these options have merit, and would provide choice.

Account inheritance settings are bound to evolve over time – google has already changed its inheritance framework. It will be interesting to see how this aspect of digital inheritance evolves – as it must do – in response to the needs of families and the increasing incidence of digital assets.

For more financial tips follow us on twitter @StandardLifeUK and Facebook.

You can now subscribe to regular MoneyPlus blog updates too by simply entering your email address in the subscription bar at the top right-hand corner of the site.

‘iPad’ is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.