Accessing Digital Data

How to Access Online Data

Most people now have some sort of online presence, be it through multiple social media platforms or just storing photos in the cloud. Many of these platforms and services cannot be accessed without the passwords. Each platform has its own terms of service, so it is imporant to look at each site individually to find out how to close accounts or to access data.

Here is a summary of a few of the main platforms:

Apple Devices & iCloud

Apple accounts are non-transferable and rights to content terminate on death unless otherwise required by law. In order to obtain access, Apple requires that the next of kin obtains a court order that names them as the rightful inheritor of their loved one’s personal information.

For information on how to request access to a deceased family member’s account, see Apple Support information.


Facebook allows a person to appoint a Legacy Contact who, on their death, can either delete the account or set up a memorial page.  The Legacy Contact is not able to read messages. 

For more information, see Facebook Legacy Contact.


Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Instagram.

If you see an account on Instagram that belongs to someone who’s passed away, you can request that Instagram memorialise the account. You will need to provide proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article. 

X (formerly Twitter)

Next of kin must present a copy of their ID and a death certificate to have the account deactivated. Twitter is unable to allow access to anyone, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. For more information see X’s information.


If you have authority to act on behalf of a deceased member you can request to memorialise or close their account.


Policies regarding access and requirements for closing accounts vary between providers:


Gmail require a copy of the deceased’s ID and death certificate.  In ‘certain circumstances’ it ‘provides content from a deceased user’s account’. For more information, see Google support.


For information on how to close an account see Yahoo support.


For more information on how to close an account see Microsoft support.

Scroll to Top