back to article Apple to grieving sons: NO, you cannot have access to your dead mum's iPad

A bereaved man has launched a legal bid to force Apple to unlock his late mother's two-year-old iPad. Josh Grant, a 26-year-old Londoner, told the Beeb he did not know his mum's Apple ID and password. The fruity firm then refused to open up the fondleslab (presumably locked to her Apple ID) even though he has sent them copies of …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

Apple Sucks

Even when you dead, Apple lock you in to their closed ecosystem !

74
12
Silver badge

Re: Apple Sucks

Buried in their walled garden.

Sounds quite pleasant, apart from the grieving relatives left outside.

25
2
Bronze badge
FAIL

Well done

Whilst one could appreciate the need for security by Apple but this is taking things far too far. If a death certificate is good enough for every other body on the planet then why isn't it good enough for Apple?

I've just gone through the mechanics of sorting out my mother's estate (what was left of it after the care home charges) and everyone I had dealt with were fantastic and every so supportive.

Apple need to have a damned good look at themselves here.

94
12
Rob

Re: Well done

Worse than that, they have supplied the will, which presumably says that her 'estate' goes to the sons. All of your digital life should also be part of your estate, especially so if the deceased used money to establish parts of that digital estate.

My commiserations on the loss of your Mum.

40
2
Gold badge

Re: Well done

Good Grief! What absolute fuckwits downvoted BongoJoe's post? There are 6 of you (so far), who need to seriously re-assess you pathetic fanboi attachment to a giant corporation that really couldn't care less about you. It's not like his criticism was in any way unfair, or unreasonable.

Yes, Apple make some very good kit. However their approach to the law in some of the countries they operate in sucks farts from dead cats (to borrow a descriptive phrase from a friend of mine).

If a death certificate and proof that you're executor is enough to open up access to bank accounts, then it should be damned well good enough for Apple. They really do need to sort themselves out, and stop being such idiots.

79
8
Silver badge

Re: Well done

I completely agree when my Mum died my old man simply had to provide a death certificate to Barclays to have all her savings transferred to his HSBC account, a completely different bank and it was all done and dusted within 4 days! It took longer to cancel her magazine subscriptions!

14
1
Silver badge

Re: Well done

>open up access to bank accounts

You own the contents of your bank account so you can will it to someone

Do you own your AppleId or do you pay for Apple for a service?

You don't inherit a netflix account or frequent flyer status

4
33
WTF?

Look at themselves?

"...Apple need to have a damned good look at themselves here."

I always thought they were a bunch of narcissists any way. I doubt that they would see anything that didn't please them.

5
0

Re: Well done

You don't inherit a netflix account or frequent flyer status

No, but you might want to cancel the deceased's monthly credit card charges. A death certificate would likely allow an executor to do that.

13
0
Bronze badge

Re: Well done

Maybe the physical device is part of the estate, but what if it contains things that the owner didnt wish to be passed on to the heirs ? Why should Apple assume that it's OK to do that ?

3
13

Re: Well done

@Adrian 4

Well if you don't want stuff passed to your heirs, you say in your will "don't pass XYZ to my heirs". Otherwise what's in the will is your, er, will. If you die intestate, then there are rules about it, essentially it goes to your relatives in sequence of closeness. Not happy with that game, write a will so you are happy. Easy.

Small pedantic point, but under most circumstances you'd need a grant of probate to deal with the estate, not just a death certificate. The solicitors in this case would know the rules and have one if necessary. The Court gives probate once it's happy the deceased is dead and that his or her estate has cleared its debts with HMRC (Inheritance Tax), and the person claiming to be the executor is the right person. After that the very purpose of the Grant is to say to all and sundry "John Doe is dead, this proves I can act on his behalf" to save going through this court order nonsense Apple has decided it requires.

I think Apple's stance is that "We don't know it's her iPad, and under data protection we can't tell you that." which is an obtuse reading of the legislation at best.

8
0

Re: Well done

If I left my IPAD to someone in my will, and I didn't leave a password for it, then I would expect it to be wiped and not unlocked. What if there was information on there that I never wanted my family to see after my death? What if I knew that such information could destroy my family?

Apple are right to demand a court order. The information on there could be terrible, and there's nothing to prove that the owner wanted their family to see it.

BUT, it's clear that the owner wanted their family to use it. For this reason I do think Apple should provide an ability to WIPE a tablet back to factory settings in these circumstances, rather than unlock it.

3
6
Gold badge

Re: Well done

Denigor,

If you wish not to have your family see your private stuff after you're dead, then don't make them executors of your will. Pick a friend instead.

There's going to be private stuff when you die. It won't be embarrassing though, as you're dead, so won't notice. But that's why you pick an executor you trust. They then get to decide what to do with stuff, not random companies who just happen to be holding onto it at the time you happened to die.

9
3

This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Well done

"Do you own your AppleId or do you pay for Apple for a service?"

What about all the stuff you've bought from Apple. Or is that somehow just a "for the duration of your life" deal?

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Well done

I'm sure the last thing that the grieving family wants, is to find out what particular flavour of porn their Granny was in to.

1
1

Re: Well done

"If you wish not to have your family see your private stuff after you're dead, then don't make them executors of your will. Pick a friend instead."

That's a pretty catchy slogan.

0
0
Bronze badge

I can kind of see their point. A death certificate proves she is dead, I highly doubt they are disputing her current status. That however does not prove the item in question was ever actually hers to leave in her will to anyone. What Apple wants is proof that the device was hers to give in the first place, they don't know that account and device were hers when she was alive you see. They could check address details and what not I guess, but nothing really proves it other than entering your password. Thats why they want a court to decide one way or the other, so there is no come back on them if its the wrong decision.

14
42
Anonymous Coward

Doesn't the blasted thing have a serial number visible somewhere on the device? This serial can then be used by Apple to trace who last used it. If it was the late mum, Bob's your uncle, no?

13
4
Anonymous Coward

No it still isn't enough

They have had sight of the death certificate, they have had sight of the will, ownership is not disputed and they know the sons are executors of the will. However, they seem (and I say seem because it is not clear why this is not enough) to want a court order to declare the sons are executors, despite ths being stated in the will.

As someone says above, Apple need to take look at themselves. If the above is enough for banks, the government, funeral parlours then it ought to be enough to transfer ownership of an Ipad. They could even delete the original account and link a new account to the Ipad in question, which is all the son was trying to do in the first place.

Condolences and best wishes to them.

32
3
Silver badge

Re: No it still isn't enough

...However, they seem (and I say seem because it is not clear why this is not enough) to want a court order to declare the sons are executors...

I can't see what the fuss is. Getting a court to declare that the sons are the executors is perfectly normal. It's called 'getting probate', and it's what happens with EVERY estate.

If (when!) you die, you leave an estate. If you have left a will, that is a direction as to how your estate is to be disposed. If you have not, the state will dispose of it for you, following standard rules.

If you have named an executor, that is the person who will carry out that admin job. If you have not, the state will do it for you (and, I suspect, though I haven't checked, charge the estate). But the rights of the executor can be challenged, so an executor is not an executor until a specialist court says he is. This process is called 'getting probate', and for most deaths it's a fairly standard (though slow) business.

Directly a death occurs, anyone who thinks he's an executor needs to apply for probate. Once this is granted, the executor can act as the representative of the dead person and distribute the estate. All Apple seem to be doing is waiting for probate to be granted. A bank would do the same.

5
5
Silver badge

Re: No it still isn't enough

Perhaps what Apple's waiting for now is Declaration of Executor (which would be issued to the two of them once the will is actually executed by the local authorities IIRC). Armed with the declaration, they would OFFICIALLY be the executors of the estate (perhaps that was what was meant by a "court order" even though a judge need not get involved in your typical probate with a will).

1
2

Re: No it still isn't enough

"Getting a court to declare that the sons are the executors is perfectly normal. It's called 'getting probate', and it's what happens with EVERY estate."

I could be wrong, but I assumed - having read about this story in various other newspapers - that they already had probate. I assume they must have done by this point or they would have encountered this problem with their mum's bank, any insurers or pension companies, every other organisation their mum dealt with, not just Apple. Apple are apparently demanding a *separate* court order, specially for them.

16
0
M7S
Bronze badge

@ Dodgy Geezer

Probate is NOT required to settle an estate. I've executed several wills and thus acted as an attorney (IANAL. Any idiot can be an attorney and many also practice as what is referred to in the US as an Attorney-at-law, here we call them solicitors. Not all are idiots.)

As executor I didn't even need to involve a solicitor in one case and in the other the only thing I used them for was a land registry transfer of the house. It just depends on how reasonable the other parties are going to be about the will etc. Probate is usually required where there are high value estates and the parties involved (Banks etc) want to be able to avoid liabilities should they release funds etc to the wrong person, understandable from their point of view, but not a legal necessity.

Sheltering behind the requirement for probate and court orders is in many cases on the same level as marketing companies, councils and bailiffs that try to hide behind "data protection" when you challenge why they wont tell you information they claim to have about you (once identity and/or consent is established), or "health and safety" regarding stupid rules in other circumstances. In these cases it's the last refuge of scoundrels and the ignorant.

It is not the first time that Apple and what happens on the death of an account holder have surfaced here http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/03/bruce_willis_in_itunes_will_spat/ although apparently things later turned out not to be as originally presented.

9
0
Silver badge

Re: @ Dodgy Geezer

I suppose it depends on what is meant by a probate. If you mean a full hearing and so on, not really. Wills are meant to minimize the need for such hearings. In one case, I was designated executor in a will. I took the will to the City Hall where the deceased last lived (where it goes depends on the location, but it's most often the lowest judicial authority for your area--the one that handles all the local affairs). Your basic municipal hall should contain a probate office or the like. Armed with the will and proof of ID, one should be able to submit the will to the office, have it probated by a clerk (the will now becomes their property and is now legally binding--but it now acts in lieu of a probate ruling). They then issue you a document officially declaring you executor of the estate, giving you the authority to attend to estate matters in the deceased's name.

0
0
Silver badge

@M7S

..Probate is NOT required to settle an estate.....

It just depends on how reasonable the other parties are going to be about the will etc....

...and the parties involved (Banks etc) want to be able to avoid liabilities should they release funds etc to the wrong person, understandable from their point of view...

I think you have just reversed your initial statement. Apple are quite within their rights to ask for a grant of probate, and probate is a pretty standard requirement. There's nothing special about it. As has been said elsewhere, it doesn't have to be a full court hearing, a 'probate office' is fine, but it is the formal proof that you are an executor. And necessary except in some special circumstances.

From the UK.Gov advice site - overview of the process:

1 - Check if there’s a will

2 - Apply to get a ‘grant of representation’ - sometimes be known as a ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’

3 - Pay Inheritance Tax

4 - Collect the assets

5 - Pay any debts

6 - Distribute the estate

You don’t normally need a grant if the estate either:

- passes to the surviving spouse/civil partner because it was held in joint names

- doesn’t include land, property or shares

That seems fairly clear. Unless the wills you executed were simply between spouses, I can't see how you got away without probate if you needed to transfer a house. Perhaps the solicitor arranged it as part of the process? I guess they MUST be talking about probate, because what else could a court order say? Probate legally states that YOU are the executor of THIS will, which is all that is needed - indeed, all the court could say...

1
0

Re: @ Dodgy Geezer

The BBC article has an update at the bottom

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26448158

Since publication, Apple has acknowledged it misunderstood the request to unlock the device. The company has now restored the factory settings. It maintains a court order would be needed to access the iCloud.

2
0

This isn't doing Apple any favours

15
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: This isn't doing Apple any favours

It damn well is, why should Apple care about publicity, most of their customers would buy from them whatever happened. If Apple allowed an iphone/pad/pod to be passed on then they'd possibly lose a sale, they'd also be giving up on the chance to resell the content to the inheritor, they'd lose their 30% cut of everything. Remember you don't own anything any more, your only rights are the rights to pay and pay and pay. If you could hand on what you'd paid for then the record companies and Apple wouldn't be able to make so much money.

8
1
Bronze badge
Joke

Re: This isn't doing Apple any favours

Obviously I haven't read the WHOLE Apple licensing agreement, but I always assumed that, on the death of a licensee, all Apple owned kit, including content was to be buried with the deceased to prevent it falling into the hands of terrywrists or, worse, discount resellers

1
0

Why Do Apple Think They're Different?

The way that UK financial institutions work is that there is a value threshold (I forget what it is, but it's way over the value of an iPad).

If the deceased's holding in that institution is below the threshold, they will release the holding on the basis of a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the will.

If the value is above threshold, then they require a probate certificate - that is to say, the will must have been proved in court. This is a standard procedure that requires the executor(s) of the will swear an oath that the will is genuine. They then get as many certificates as they need to send to the financial institutions who then act on their instructions.

Why is Apple different? A probate certificate should function in the same way as the court order - it says there is a genuine will which allocated the deceased's property in a particular way.

Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

14
2
Anonymous Coward

Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

I think that's the rub. Apple are saying they need proof it was.

6
5
jai
Silver badge

Re: Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

i think that's it

otherwise, anyone could steal an iPad or Mcabook or iMac, then go to Apple can claim that their <insert imaginary relative> has just died and they need access to their Apple account

5
10

Re: Why Do Apple Think They're Different?

God no, it's Apple's property, they just allow you to use it in return for a metric arseload of cash.

18
3
Bronze badge

Re: Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

Ah, but <imaginary_relative> relative wouldn't have a certified copy of the death certificate.

9
0
Stop

Re: Why Do Apple Think They're Different?

How do you know how valuable the data on the iPad is without analysing all of it?

1
2
Silver badge

Re: Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

> Apple are saying they need proof it was [part of the deceased's property].

Which, of course, they cannot find by themselves. After all they _only_ have an Apple ID linked to a a credit card, and access to the physical location of the device, presumably together with the _history_ of the location of the device. They most probably have more proof of the ID of the last owner than the owner's sons themselves. Of course retrieving that info would require them to give a damn about their customers, which will happen in one of 2 cases: sub-zero temperatures in Hey Deze, or... OK, make that just one case.

15
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Why Do Apple Think They're Different?

If it involves property, land or shares then you need to get a "grant of representation". You get this simply by filling in a form and swearing an oath (and sending loads of documentation). The grant costs nothing if the estate is under £5k and £105 if it is more. You may also need this grant of representation if the contents of a bank account or value of an asset are more than about £20k.

Once you have this all banks and other organisation (utilities etc) release the assets to you.

It seems that Apple are saying "prove your mother owned this". That is not their function. If Apple believes that the sons are illegally in possession of the iPad then they should report this to the authorities. Otherwise they should release the assets (username and password) under the authority of the grant of representation.

12
1

Re: Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

And this is an account which is set up on the iPad already (and hence locked), and which is in the name of a relative for whom they have the death certificate and will? Surely that combination of information rules out the chance of it being stolen from Joe Public.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

As they are discussing the AppleID and password, rather than the pin to unlock it, it is clearly not the case that all he wants are the images or videos on the device. You don't need the id and password to do that at all. It sounds as though there is more to this story than has been reported as otherwise he would just install iFunbox, plug the ipad into a pc and copy the files off, no need for the password then. (even without knowing this a quick google for "how do I get files off my ipad" will throw up a ton of suggestions.

Not saying I agree with Apples stance on this, I don't at all, but it all seems a bit strange to me.

4
4
Silver badge

From my look at it, the "we can use it as a shiny placemat" and the "false economy" of going through the process of getting the court order. I think at this point it's stubborn british pride. The device was left to him by his mother, apple are preventing him from using the device, so he's taking action about it.

6
2

What do you want?

Everyone complains that there is no security on mobile devices. Apple makes mobile devices secure and still people complain.

What do you/we want?

6
28
Silver badge

Re: What do you want?

What do you/we want?

A little application of compassionate common sense?

28
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: What do you want?

A little application of compassionate common sense?

agree fully, but in the same vein I can hardly pretend I wouldn't be bashing apple if they'd reset a stolen ipad based on a fraudulent death claim (or a similar social engineering trick). I suspect this is just low-level customer service avoiding making legal decisions (which they likely aren't authorized to do, especially at a company like apple).

2
3
Silver badge

Re: What do you want?

Then their low level customer service needs to be better trained what to do in situations that they're scared of dealing with. Better to refer it to someone higher up the food chain than to be belligerent to grieving relatives of a deceased customer.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: What do you want?

Quite. Most companies which live behind call centres have a small section of trained personnel who are skilled and are able to empathise with the bereaved.

A lot of the problem here is that they have in their hands something which is tangiable. This is not downloaded music which, to most people, "isn't there". This is an actual physical object like a DVD or a CD which people can pass onto each other.

We have the tale of one of the correspondents here whose mother is dying and she was given an iPad in her last days. The item, when it was purchased in a shop somewhere, would have seen to be something which can be passed on and not to be thrown away.

It takes a special type of heartless organisation which hides behind their T&Cs and tells the bereaved that they have to throw the item into landfill. Some form of compassion is certainly required here and Apple should think once again and have a section of people who are going to be sympathetic.

2
0

Worse to come...

Even if they gain access to the device, just wait until they try and access her e-books and music. She's dead and the licence to access those materials was for her only and expires when she does. The whole digital world is a false economy, you don't own anything, even the tangible objects.

16
0

Re: Worse to come...

Wasn't that the nub of the false Bruce Willis story a year or two ago??

I would've thought Apple would be able to tally the iPad serial number to the iTunes account in a few clicks. Never mind the courts, go straight to BBC Watchdog and have it plastered across prime time TV then see just how quick it gets sorted

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Worse to come...

I think Apple's big enough to fight back with those fateful four words, "They were never SOLD." Unless a court of some significance declares T&C's of the likes of Apple's to be unenforceable (Note: a similar T&C term exists for Valve's Steam system, so they'd be interested, too), then NOTHING sold via these stores is transferable from person to person: not even by inheritance (as I recall, lotteries do the same thing for their annuities, which is why many big winners prefer lump sums).

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Worse to come...

So they don't need to dispose of all the books and music of the deceased, that's a positive as far as I am concerned.

0
1

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums