Mother leaves Apple iPad in will, but Apple won't unlock it

Mother leaves Apple iPad in will, but Apple won't unlock it
Anthea Grant purchased an Apple iPad when she discovered that she had cancer. Grant used her slate to play games, and to conduct video chats with her kids. Sadly, she succumbed to her disease, leaving a will that split her estate among her five boys. It was decided by the brothers that the eldest son, Patrick, would receive the tablet.

Unfortunately, the brothers did not know their mom's Apple ID and password, and requested that the Cupertino based tech titan unlock the iPad. And that is where this story would have ended except for one important note. Apple refused to unlock the tablet, asking for written consent to do so. With the passing of Mrs. Grant, that was one request from Apple that could not be done.

The Grant brothers have turned over a death certificate and an attorney's letter, but to no avail. Apple is asking for a court order to unlock the tablet, which is creating a very high expense for the surviving brothers. "It's going to have to go through our solicitor and he charges £200 ($334 USD) an hour so it's a bit of a false economy," says Josh Grant.


Apple's policy is not to unlock a device in this type of situation, in order to protect the iCloud accounts belonging to Apple's customers. These accounts could contain personal information that was not supposed to be made public.

As for the iPad in question, it seems that Apple won't give in. The moral of the story is that if you plan on bequeathing your Apple device in your will, better make sure you include the Apple ID and password.

source: BBC via Gizmodo

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71 Comments

1. verbalize

Posts: 150; Member since: May 03, 2013

It's sad but I think it's not apples place to unlock it.

2. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Apple are the only people who can unlock it, it is their place to unlock it. She didn't know what day she was going to die, she could've planned to tell them the password the next day but it is unpredictable.

4. verbalize

Posts: 150; Member since: May 03, 2013

If she wanted them to know it then she should have put in the will. Some people should respect people's privacy . Maybe there are things that she wanted to take to her grave. Like I said its sad but respect someone's privacy. I don't want my family snooping my business after I die.

7. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

There was a better way to handle this, by deactivating her account (since they sent a death certificate) and unlock the pad..

8. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Even if they dectivate the account, the local info still remains on the device. Deactivating the account may make it may make it unlockable. I was coming in to this article, with the intention of berating Apple, but after thinking about it, i appreciate Apple for safeguarding the privacy of a person even after death.

15. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

well if she said she wanted to give it to the son, what is the question of keeping it private, she said to give him the ipad. BUt then again i respect apple keeping the pirvacy, heck sometimes i cant get into my own phone

16. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

edit: i cant get into my dads phone when he messes something up and asks me to fix it lol

34. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Same with me, I came to talk crap as I'm a member of the Android camp, but I think Apple is correct in not unlocking the device. Though given the circumstances, there should be some sort of service that would allow them to wipe the device clean, especially after all the documentation they provided.

17. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

First, I think she had other things on her mind than that. Second, if she wanted to take certain things on the iPad to her grave, why give it to them in the will? Third, what they have given Apple, a death certificate, notarized letter, are all that is needed for handling things when a person passes. If it works for canceling service for utilities and service providers, credit card companies, and the social security administration and medicare, it should sure as hell work for Apple. I just had my mother pass so I have become educated on the matter by necessity. If nothing else, they should accept a request from her power of attorney, which probably one of her sons is, and if not whoever is could help them, unless they won't even accept that either. If a company acted that way after my mother's passing, I'd post the story on YouTube, followed by a bit of target practice, since it would cost more to unlock it than to buy a new device. Just a suggestion though.

19. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly. My mother died years ago and had a furniture bill. I told them what happened, and that was that. I heard a similar story about a mother being left with a bill for her son's loan after he died because she was the co signer. Thats a lil different but still......some of these companies need to show a lil compassion.

22. verbalize

Posts: 150; Member since: May 03, 2013

First the mother requested for her estate to be split up among all the boys. I don't think she was necessarily talking about the iPad. If she wanted 1 person to get it she would have stated that in the will. Why did the mother have a password on her device knowing that she was ill? I have a attachment to my will with all passwords to my accounts for my family and the ones I don't give they will stay with me.

41. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

The estate, unless specifically broken down, means everything the deceased owned, owed, and was owed. And again, she probably had more on her mind than making sure they knew her password. There are many things that people don't think about when they're getting close to the end. My parents went to an estate planner and even then some things were missed, so to expect someone who's staring down their final days to cover everything that needed to be covered isn't realistic. She probably never even gave it a second thought. But in cases like this, if resolving the issue meant getting a court order every time to do so, the courts would be more congested than they already are. But if Apple sticks by their decision and I were in the son's shoes, it goes in the dumpster, because it's pretty much a paper weight, which is just stupid and wasteful, but it is what it is. I know I'd wouldn't give them my business that's for sure. And that'd be the same for any company that did this.

68. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

she was probably an older woman that wasn't tech savvy. In fact, kudos to her for even having a password, most people like that don't take such precautions. Besides, maybe she wasnt exactly in a position to turn off the password or even communicate it to someone else.

23. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

At this point the tablet is worthless to them because of Apple's stance. If it was me, I'd destroy the tablet (gotta protect that information) and mail the fragments to Apple, along with a Dear John letter telling them they'd lost a customer. Apple can unlock the device and do a wipe, shouldn't be a problem considering how much paperwork the boy has.

26. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

You throwing a hissy fit and mailing them a damaged, already purchased iPad over something so trivial wouldn't mean anything to them. More than likely an entry level employee would be the one opening it and would just be informed by his/her supervisor to discard it and carry on. At this point it's up to the family to decide how bad they want this iPad unlocked, they've already been informed on what they need to do.

28. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

And where's that awesome Apple service support you guys always brag about? Apple telling them to take it to a third party that charges $334 an hour isn't good support. For that amount you might as well just buy a new tablet, hence this one is worthless to them, as I pointed out.

30. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

Apple gave them a definite answer as to how they could get this issue resolved. Proof of death and an attorney letter isn't exactly legal permission to gain access to someone else's property. You need a court order to do that.

32. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

I'm sure the will made it their property at that point.

43. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

You are correct. Her will made it their property in its current state at the time of her death. They have ownership of the iPad in the state of which she left it to them and there's nothing more that can be done unless they go to court and get permission to use the iPad in a state of which wasn't left to them.

36. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

A will, a death certificate, and a notarized letter isn't permission to take over what they leave behind? If it works for everything else, but not for Apple, that doesn't sound wrong. For Christ's sake their mother just died and they want them to spend 5-10 times what the iPad's worth to get a court order to resolve the issue. Her sons are responsible for taking care of her affairs, if she didn't want them to have access to her personal info, she wouldn't have left it to them. I could understand if she was still alive and they tried this, but to do so now just makes them jump through hoops and relive her passing trying to resolve this.

42. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

As I'm in the IT field, data security is kinda a big thing. The circumstances are terrible, but the fact of the matter is that potential sensitive material can be on the device. I know you'll say that she bought it for games and intended to give it to her family after she passed away, but it's not Apple's place to pick and choose. They have a policy and I think that they are in the right for sticking to it. That being said, ownership of the device has been transferred to her son and I think they (Apple) should reformat the tablet as a courtesy not only for the family, but also to protect their own image. They want people to think of them as a compassionate company that provides goods that better people’s lives, not some heartless corporation that wont assist a greaving family because they can’t make money off of them.

25. semipro1337

Posts: 113; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

Her business was apparently for entertainment, she sounded like she used it for comfort during her last days, and was apparently alone since the father died previously. Apple won't unlock it simply because its a loss of the cost for this person to just simply purchase a new model for himself. Who uses icloud for important stuff anyway? and as far as leaving the pw in the will, its not like passwords have tendency to change or anything, what would happen jd the pw was left but had since been changed? You can't expect a dying person to remember a password change that needs to be updated in their will. apple, you suck.

38. Mittal

Posts: 494; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

Apple was correct to ask for a court order.. to insulate itself from any potential issue Apple has no obligation to fulfil such requests.... yes they would have been angels to do it.. but not doing it does not make them devils

67. tedkord

Posts: 17397; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's silly. She specifically left the iPad in the will. She wasn't worried about what they would see, she just didn't realize that this would be an issue. If she didn't want them to see what was on it, she wouldn't have willed it to them. Come on, Apple. Do the right thing.

35. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

@UglyFrank (Comment #2) Using that logic, she could've purposely not told them as well. Don't let the title mislead you. Her will did not explicitly give ownership to the iPad and access to it. Based on the article and sources, her will said split my estate 5 ways and then the sons decided who got what after that. This is a legal issue that the brothers must decide on whether or not to pursue.

3. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Cold, but not surprised.

5. ibap

Posts: 867; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

So how often are you going to update your will, every time you update your password? Oh, wait, don't Apple users ever do that? They could certainly unlock the device without leaving it connected to the data behind it, and yes,they would lose any pictures, music, emails and so on, but they'd have the device. Has this not occurred to anyone, if it is privacy they're concerned about? Oh, wait, could they be concerned about something else? At this point, I'd bet none of those involved are going to buy another Apple product, so Apple can just go ahead and forget about any profit they might derive from them.

6. HASHTAG unregistered

Apple shouldn't be responsible for any of this. I'm sure it's unfortunate that they have to go through this tragic lose of theirs, but I honestly don't think it's worth paying all that money for attorney fees. You could by an iPad Mini 2 every hour at that cost.

10. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

So what do you say the family should do, since their mom pass away?. this is unnecessary grief they are placing on this family, especially over a piece of electronic... there is a human connection.. smh

24. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

Apple isn't causing them any grief at all. They're following protocol and they've informed the family what they legally must do in order to unlock the iPad.

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