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Question: Can you unlock a deceased spouses phone?

My spouse passed away recently and his phone was locked. There are several account passcodes that I am needing to retreive in order to keep things running. If I submit a marriage/death certificate, will Apple unlock it?

iPhone 4S

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Dec 25, 2013 6:06 PM in response to nohickchick In response to nohickchick

Apple has no way to unlock it. If your spouse was syncing to a computer you can connect to that computer and sync it to unlock it or Restore it from backup to completely unlock it. If not you would have to put it in Recovery mode to clear the lock which would erase everything from the phone. If this is the case use Google to find another means that we cannot discuss here to clear the lock.

Dec 25, 2013 6:06 PM

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Dec 25, 2013 6:11 PM in response to nohickchick In response to nohickchick

I am sorry for your loss.

It depends what kind of lock you mean. If it is the passcode lock on the phone Apple cannot help you; Apple does not know the code.

If it is the Activation Lock that prevents turning off Find my iPhone or his Apple ID then Apple can probably help; see: for information on contacting Apple Account Security.

If it is the passcode lock and you have access to his computer and he has synced the phone to iTunes you can back up the phone without needing the passcode lock value, then Restore the phone using iTunes. This will remove the passcode lock and allow the backup to be restored. To try this connect the phone to his computer, when the name of the phone appears in iTunes, click on it, then click the Back Up Now button. If you are prompted to enter the screen lock code then this method will not work, but if the backup succeeds you can either restore the backup to the phone or download one of the many iPhone Backup Extractor programs and get the information you need out of the backup.

Dec 25, 2013 6:11 PM

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Jan 28, 2014 6:01 AM in response to deggie In response to deggie

My husband took his own life in September leaving two young daughters. I need to by pass his code on an i phone 5 in order to retrieve our family photos, email account details, bank details, Facebook account etc. The family photos are very important particularly for my daughters, along with his music which holds many memories for all of us. Finally, I would also like to piece together the last hours of his life to enable me to complete my own healing process. I have visited an Apple Genius Bar with all the relevant documentation including the orginial Death Certificate. I was informed that it was impossible to by pass the code unless I was a representing a criminal investigation department. So firstly it is therefore possible for Apple to unlock an i phone, and secondly it is a disgrace that Apple are so unhelpful and refuse to help me and many others in a similiar situation. Why is this? It is difficult enough coping with the loss of a loved one without the added frustration and heartache of being unable to retrieve important information in order to move forwards. When are Apple going to start showing a human face instead of behaving like robots with no consideration for their customers and their needs. I have written to my local MP and I will be lobbying to get support from other influential people.

Jan 28, 2014 6:01 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 6:42 AM in response to Manda25 In response to Manda25

No it not and there is no solution to getting the iPhone unlocked without a court order

This is not Apple we are all users here ,there is no Apple participation and the link provides the only route to feedback electronically to Apple

Jan 28, 2014 6:42 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 6:49 AM in response to Manda25 In response to Manda25

I am sorry for your loss.

Apple has no way to bypass a lock code on an iPhone. The code exists solely on the phone; it is not stored anywhere else, and there is no way to get it out of the phone. As deggie said, there are two options. If the phone was synced with a computer you should be able to connect to that computer and back up the phone without having to enter the passcode. Have you tried this?

The other possibility is the phone was backed up to iCloud. You can tell if this is the case by connecting to a computer and looking in iTunes. Click on the phone's name in iTunes. The iTunes screen will show the dates of the last local backup and last iCloud backup.

If the backup exists in either or both places you can simply restore the phone and the passcode will be removed; you can then restore the backup.

As far as music is concerned, any iTunes purchased music should already be in iTunes on the computer that is authorized to the iTunes account, and if it isn't it can be downloaded to iTunes again. And any non-iTunes music (CDs or MP3s) MUST be on the computer, as that is the only way they can be transferred to the iPhone.

Photos in the Photos app on the iPhone must also be on the computer they were transferred from. Photos in the Camera Roll that were not transferred to the computer (which would be unusual) will still be in the computer or iCloud backup. And if Photo Stream was enabled they will also be in iCloud and on any computers that synced to the same iCloud account.

I suggest you find a local iPhone expert to work with on recovering the content using the methods described if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. Whatever you do, do not try to guess the passcode. He may have set it to erase the phone after 10 failed attempts. If this has happened there is no way to recover anything from the phone.

Finally, it is rumored (but not confirmed) that Apple can extract data from a locked phone if they have physical possession of the phone. An Apple store cannot do this; there is supposedly a lab within Apple's headquarters that can do this for law enforcement authorities. They probably disassemble the phone and physically access the phone's memory. The rumor also says that there is a backlog of requests that go back many weeks, so even law enforcement must wait. If you want to try this approach submit an executive request by addressing Tim Cook directly. He will not respond, but he has a staff that reviews all messages that go to him. Note that this does not mean that Apple can unlock the phone; they can extract data from the phone if the rumor is correct.

Jan 28, 2014 6:49 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 6:57 AM in response to nohickchick In response to nohickchick

I certainly am sorry to hear of your loss. Although it might seem reasonable that Apple have a way to unlock devices that are either locked with a passcode or locked to an Apple ID, this is a security and privacy issue that has long been a problem that many requested. Unless required by law, I would guess that Apple will not/can not do anything unless an original proof of purchase be presented. Surely you would agree that the privacy and security of the deceased should also be protected.

Jan 28, 2014 6:57 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 7:23 AM in response to Lawrence Finch In response to Lawrence Finch

Thank you for your help Lawrence, but my point is that if Apple can unlock a phone for law enforcement authorities why can't they do this for people in my position..even for a small fee. I will be addressing Tim Cook directly and I will also be setting up a social media site to share my plight with others and to bring this situation to the public's attention. I am unable to access his i Tunes for back up/iCloud as unless I have the computer that he used for back up its pointless unless you know differently?

Jan 28, 2014 7:23 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 7:31 AM in response to TeeKnows In response to TeeKnows

I take some of your point but I have proof of purchase and a picture of his daughters is set as wallpaper cover on his phone. I don't however agree with your point regarding privacy of the deceased in this case. He was very ill and would have not been concerned about privacy or security as he was very distressed and as I stated took his own life. He most definitely would not want his daughters to experience this emotional heartache which is purely down to red tape and bureaucracy. I will not let this drop and will use the power of democracy, free speech and majority opinion to stop this from happening to others. The law needs to be changed and companies like Apple need to realise that its not just about the sale of their brand but about real people who buy their products and keep the super rich shareholders in profit!

Jan 28, 2014 7:31 AM

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Jan 28, 2014 8:17 AM in response to Manda25 In response to Manda25

Until such time as you provide Apple with a death certificate, proving he is deceased, and a letter of testementary from the executor of the estate they could do nothing for you any way and these laws will never be changed. Once you have those documents you could contact the Apple legal department and ask if they will reconsider your request.

Apple will not even access data for law enforcement agencies without a valid search warrant which is not done very often.

You can consider the following:

1. Use Google and find a non-approved means to bypass the passcode.

2. Purchase data recovery software.

3. Send the device to a 3rd party data recovery company. You will again need a death certification and a letter of testementary.

I would recommend option 3.

Jan 28, 2014 8:17 AM

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Aug 10, 2017 3:45 AM in response to Manda25 In response to Manda25

It's not they wouldn't help you. They really can't.. They made the iPhone. It's the best phone on the market with security. That's why it's so restricted. Themselves can't even help you even if they wanted too. And believe me they are good caring people. Or they wouldn't be hired there. I'm sure they wanted to help you badly. But it's just what they're about. It is sad in your case. And I'm sorry about your whole situation.

Aug 10, 2017 3:45 AM

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Question: Can you unlock a deceased spouses phone?