If you have recently lost a friend or family member, you may be looking to gain access to their phone, computer, or tablet in order to get their personal data left behind. Whether you’re looking for photos, passwords, or other information, it’s frustrating when you don’t know their passcode to simply access it.
We’ve gathered the steps you should follow to unlock a device if the owner passes away.
How to unlock an Android or PC if the owner passes away
Similar to Apple’s iCloud, Android devices and PC computer users often connect their devices to a Google account. If you know the email address and password associated with the user’s Google account, you may be able to reset their password using that.
Using a Google account to access data
- If the owner of the device had a Google account associated, this may be an option while logging in
- If you try and log in to an Android 5 times incorrectly, you may be prompted to reset the passcode for the phone using a Google account
- If you have that log-in information, reset the passcode via instructions sent to the email address associated with the Google account
Using a Samsung account to access data
- If the owner of the device had a Samsung phone, they may have set up a Samsung account which gives access to reset the device’s passcode
- If you have that login information, go to Samsung’s Find My service and follow the instructions
- You’ll be able to reset and unlock the phone in seconds
Using a Microsoft account to access data
If the owner of the device was a Microsoft user and had an email address ending in Outlook.com, Live.com, Hotmail.com, and MSN.com, and you do not have their Microsoft login information, you can request it through a subpoena or court order. You’ll most likely be required to provide:
- A copy of the death certificate
- A copy of the deceased person’s ID or passport
- A copy of certificate of inheritance (Erbschein) or other documentation from a court that proves sole heirship, or names and addresses of all heirs and consent that you are entitled to act on their behalf
- A copy of the requestor’s ID or passport, or a signed power of attorney
Removing an SD memory card
- Some devices may have a memory card built-in
- If they did, take out the SD card and connect it to another device, like a computer, using an SD card reader
- You should have access to photos and other data stored on that memory card
How to ensure loved ones can access your data
In case of an emergency or death, you want to be sure your loved ones can still access your data. Make sure one trusted loved one has your login information and/or passwords written down in a safe, protected location. That way they can still access your photos and other phone apps without having to go through a court order or complicated reset process.
If your phone provider offers a legacy contact option, set that up now.
If you use social media, platforms like Facebook offer an option to name someone as your Legacy Contact.
Let us know your tech questions and comment below.