Grieving family upset Apple refuses to unlock their dead son’s iPad

“A heartbroken family were unable to give their dead son a fitting send-off because Apple refused to unlock the iPad containing his funeral wishes,” Ekin Karasin reports for The Daily Mail.

“Liam Wright, 18, who died of bone cancer in December, had noted his last wishes on the tablet because he couldn’t bear to talk about it in person with his family,” Karasin reports. “But his relatives, of Brotton, North Yorkshire, were forced to have the service without knowing what he wanted – because Apple reportedly would not unlock the device after a software update.

“Liam’s sister Kerry Lamb explained that they knew Liam had made a few notes about the service on his iPad. ‘He hadn’t want to speak about it – we knew he was dying and he knew he was dying – but it was not a conversation he wanted to have,’ she told the Daily Mirror,” Karasin reports. “The family asked Liam for the code to his tablet but he was too ill to respond, which is why they contacted the media firm. Apple did not help and – when asked a second time – refused to unlock it unless the family sent them a death certificate and solicitor’s letter which cost them £120, Ms Lamb claimed. She claimed Apple then told them they had not sent the relevant information and now want a court order costing them £360.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, Apple can resolve this issue while maintaining their strong focus on privacy.


  1. People really should start thinking ahead. Just like a will with a lawyer, people need to leave their digital passwords also. Security is for your safety. Apple is just protecting your digital information.

  2. A smart phone is not the place for a person to have the only copies of precious photos, last will, burial request or other personal data that exists no where else. Remember to talk to people, friends and especially family and leave a paper trail.

  3. Lack of planning by one individual is not the fault of someone else. There are countless stories like this of people who didn’t follow through with will’s, financial situations or after life wishes.

    This doesn’t sound like it was a sudden illness so someone should have taken responsibility. It’s NOT Apple’s responsibility.

    1. I disagree. All minors make dumb decisions and obviously the family had more important things to do than worry about digital rights management. As far as I’m concerned, Apple should be forced by law to give parents the option of accessing their children’s devices at any time. After death, it’s a no brainier. A death certificate should be all it takes for any family member to unlock a device. That should be a law. The dead don’t care about secrets.

      I know everyone here is a tech savvy responsible parent but Apple is not doing enough to help the average parent be more effectively involved in parenting in the digital world. Hence a generation of haters and whiners, antisocial/passive aggressive in public and backstabbing online. Giving parents the tools to access their children’s ios gadgets is a no brainier. Do the right thing Apple.

  4. This may sound cold, believe me I don’t mean it to. But it’s incredibly irresponsible of the family to know that someone they care about and love is putting their last wishes somewhere, and to not discuss how to retrieve these wishes from that location, this is on them, not Apple. No one would go after a safe manufacturer for a loved one leaving a will in a safe, locked up.

      1. But you would still have to pay for the new key or pay for the damage to the car for breaking in. Apple is asking the equivalent of either. “You want us to break into someone else’s computing device (iPad), so get a court order to protect us from liability and pay our people their wages for doing the work!’

  5. Clearly this is a situation where Apple’s interests would be much better served by sending an employee to assess the situation and then assist the family at a time of great stress rather than imposing a legal requirement on a grieving family

    1. Not legal, technical. Encryption means that. And it ONLY works if you can’t unencrypt it.

      If you can get data off of an encrypted phone, then why encrypt in the first place?

    1. That’s a good point. There’s a lot more on a device. And Apple needs to respect privacy of the device owner as primary (even if now deceased), not the wishes of relatives.

  6. I sympathize with the parents but privacy is privacy, if the son had wished access for the family after his death he should have arranged it.

    It says right in the article that the son did not want to talk about it, so that’s about it for me, though the details might be different at the end of the day privacy is privacy.

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