View Full Version : What happens to my devices after I die?

Rod Sprague
05-14-2017, 11:03 PM
What happens to my devices after I die?

It's a question that many of us either put off or ignore until too late and it covers a whole range of topics.

Intellectual property, privacy and the value and ongoing usability of the devices in question.

If I was to pass away tomorrow would the beneficiaries of my estate be able to use my eg. iPhone, iPad, Macbook or iMac or would they become decorative paperweights.

Then there is the question of Intellectual property. The articles I've written, my Blog, my Face Book account, my Twitter account, any sites that I may have subscribed to (including this one), my browsing history, my photos, videos and information stored in cloud based services. Can I will these things to others.

From the Privacy point of view there are some questions that obviously arise. Would I want my family to gain access to all of my personal information anyway. Emails, web sites, downloads ect. are private things so unless you lead a squeaky clean lifestyle there may be some things you would not want to become common knowledge.

So taking all these things into account how best to ensure your devices will continue to live useful lives after you kick off the mortal coil without threatening your personal security, identity and habits?

Personally I have shared the master password for my password manager (which contains all of my logins and passwords), my user name and admin logins for all my devices to two people, my wife and my son.

For the few sensitive items I have stored I have used a security application for which only I know the password.

Whenever I visit a web site, whenever I store or download something, whenever I write an article or essay I think to myself would I want everyone to see this if I died in my sleep. I think if you can answer that question honestly then by all means give full access to your devices to whoever you like.

At the very least ensure that, in the case of Apple devices, your User Name/s, Admin passwords, access codes and Apple ID are passed on.

See http://www.mac-forums.com/os-x-operating-system/340315-icloud-death.html

I'm sure that others will have something to say on this topic.

Some online accounts are now offering inactive account services which give full access to a nominated person/s after a set period of account inactivity but not nearly enough.

Trial cases are being held on access rights to accounts by next of kin in the case of sudden death but again the outcomes are cloudy and limited to certain countries or states.

Suggestions like willing an envelope containing a document with User Name/s, Admin passwords, access codes to a person in your estate is another suggestion.

Let's here yours.

05-14-2017, 11:47 PM
Moved here to the lounge. Not a community suggestion or otherwise.

As to your question... First of all, this a legal matter which will vary from country to country and in the US from State to State. My advice is to consult a lawyer who is familiar in these matters and of course where you live with regard to jurisdiction.

We do not need a myriad of opinions which are just that, opinions.

Rod Sprague
05-15-2017, 12:28 AM
I have already stated this is is a matter of local jurisdiction as far as the legal aspects of ownership and property go but it is not purely a legal matter. It is a matter of personal choice and yours, is, as you have said an opinion.

If people wish their expensive devices to be "bricked" after death we can continue to place our heads in the sand regarding this topic. To my knowledge Apple do not offer any Legacy options for subscriptions.

Alternatively we can attempt to sort out the problem after the fact as in the case of the recent post I attached.

This is different to topics like Face Book's Legacy Contact options or Memorialising an account.

Little is ever mentioned about these topics and if people have ideas or "opinions" on the topic I would be interested in hearing them.

05-15-2017, 01:07 AM
As I won't be using them, or anything else, I don't give a tinker's. My sons can use them, sell them, give them away or whatever they wish.

05-15-2017, 01:44 AM
I have already stated this is is a matter of local jurisdiction as far as the legal aspects of ownership and property go but it is not purely a legal matter. It is a matter of personal choice and yours, is, as you have said an opinion.

You can make all the personal choices you wish before you pass on, however, if those choices are not done legally (a last will and testament) how are you to know that your wishes were carried out? You don't. Sure, we may be speaking about Apple devices here but the subject is a lot more complex than you make it out to be. I've heard of family members coming to a state of war against each other over who should get what. And it didn't matter what the deceased wishes were before they passed on.

Anyway, enough said. I'll let you carry on. Maybe Randy will jump in and give his opinion?

Rod Sprague
05-15-2017, 02:22 AM
Well harryb2448, first they need to be able to access them. Not much good if they can't login to start with.
We all know the process that should be followed before selling or giving away an iDevice, be it an iPhone or a MacBook but if we are not around then someone else needs to carry out those steps. In the case of a MacBook, you require an Apple ID just to turn off Find My Device and I wont even begin on 2FA.

I am fully aware of the illegality of logging into someone elses account with thier credentials. Even where it is a joint bank account for example, but we all know this happens.

At the end of the day simply leaving your Apple ID, User Name and Admin Password is surely the minimum obligation to ensure that our devices have some use after we die, even if it's just to erase and reinstall OSX.

05-15-2017, 04:30 AM
Thanks, Rod. No time like the present to sort this. Nothing on any of my devices which I wouldn't want my heir to see (well, apart from the photos of her flat when she hasn't tidied up!!;D ).

05-15-2017, 04:56 AM
They both know precisely where my will, insurances, deeds, bank and computer passwords are at my solicitor.

05-15-2017, 06:58 AM
I agree with Rod. I think that there are problems unique to "The Digital Age or Lifestyle" which are not necessarily covered by current legislation, certainly in the UK.

About a year ago, following a request for participants in one of our Daily Newspapers (The Telegraph), I was invited to be interviewed on this subject; to which I agreed.

The journalistic study was in two parts:

1. Awareness of the public about the difficulties of post mortem digital media in its myriad forms - linked with

A review of such current legislation as exists.

2. How to inform the general public of their rights and how to persuade them to take action now - leading to

The need to lobby Parliament about changes to the law that would be required to satisfy the legal requirements in a digital age.

I have to confess that I am not sure how far this study has progressed.

My very personal view is that the matter is, in terms of significance, up there alongside the need to have backups and to embrace the latest in data security.


05-15-2017, 07:25 AM
All my passwords, online login details etc are printed out and are with my will in a fire safe so that they be fully accessed after I'm gone. Also I've never downloaded music, preferring to buy CD's and rip them. That way not only do I have a backup copy but on my death they can be passed on or sold.

05-15-2017, 01:36 PM
I think this is a very relevant topic.
I recently started thinking about this myself. All my digital stuff is something I care about. All passwords and other credential related data is stored in 1Password and our 2 daughters know the password to the 1Password vault. What I am most concerned with is licenses and digital rights ( to music ).
Am trying to get some advise on those things.

Cheers ... McBie

Rod Sprague
05-16-2017, 12:41 AM
Here are a couple of interesting web pages on the topic, including one from Apple Communities.