Death in the Family need access to Microsoft Account Locked Computer

Recently a death has rocked our little world.

He was a friend and his family is struggling through all the processes and pain that comes with it.

One such problem is my friends personal laptop.  This laptop is currently locked with his Microsoft Account(here in MSA).  

And I'm wondering what can be done.  

Due to poor records we CANNOT use the standard method password reset.  Knowledge of security questions, previous emails, and even email usage (i can't remember the questions, who was a contact recently emailed etc) are unavailable to us as it was a registered MS account using an external email address and therefore no correspondence even exists in their box.

Now, IF the laptop was locked with a standard account, (no other users exist on the computer) we'd have no problem as there are many methods to madness in that respect (i.e  local account reset).

But alas here we are with a MSA Locked computer.

We have contacted Microsoft in this matter and have hit a brick wall.  We once were even told to "wait for the son to come home."  Please remember they are dead.  Imagine hearing that about your deceased son/friend.

We were directed to "Next of Kin process."  But this only deals with data Microsoft is in control of, namley Skydrive and Email.  NONE of which were used or used sparingly.  But due to the fact that the MSAccount is now in full control of that data they probably should be.

What the family needs is access, access to the personal data of the deceased on the laptop that Microsoft chose to admin encrypt with their MSA information.

It boggles my mind that a company could create such a solution (Tying Local Admin Accounts to Online profiles) that they did not foresee this to be a PROBLEM.


The purpose for this question to the community is to raise awareness.  There needs to be a better solution.  This family is not going balk at providing documentation, or going through processes needed to reset the account (outside the norm).  They are however currently stuck with no solutions present to them.  My friend didn't create this situation, Microsoft did with the account linking.


If this happened to a company MSA (admin) account they'd be out progress, money and time.

Awareness, and getting this memo on an executives desk.  THAT is the purpose of this, please upvote, like, dislike, report as abuse and AGREE that a solution needs to be there for those that have this thrust upon them.  A blind eye with the FURTHER integration of Windows 10 to online profiles creates even more of a NEED for extraneous solutions.  

I will also be contacting Microsoft directly, if possible to help get this noticed.  As we cannot be the first to find ourselves in this situation.

Thank you for your time and your patience in reading the long post.

in memory of David,

Levi

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Hi,

We don't work for Microsoft; we are mainly volunteers here and can not change Microsoft Policy in this matter.

As you say, you have to work with Microsoft directly to bring in changes.

And as you must appreciate, we are very sorry for the loss, but we can not give advice here on how to "crack" Passwords

Microsoft forbids any assistance being given in these Forums to help you bypass or "crack" lost or forgotten Passwords.

Here is the Microsoft Information outlining that Policy:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-security/keeping-passwords-secure-microsoft-policy-on/39f56ef0-5d68-41ad-9daa-6e6019c25d37

One of the reasons for that Policy is that anyone can come online and say anything they wish to and gain access to another person's computer.

We are not saying that you are doing that, but our hands are tied by the Microsoft Policy upon risk of being banned from here it we violate that Policy.

__________________________________________________________

Microsoft has outlined steps to follow for your particular circumstances, but unfortunately as you already know they will not divulge Passwords.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook_com/forum/oaccount-omyinfo/my-family-member-died-recently-is-in-coma-what-do/308cedce-5444-4185-82e8-0623ecc1d3d6

The only suggestion is for contact to be made with a local Computer Repair Shop with all the relevant information of ownership, etc.

They may or may not assist.

Regards.

___________________________________________________

Bill Smithers - Microsoft MVP July 2013 - Dec 2020
Microsoft will not respond to whatever email account is being bandied about as part of the "next of kin" process. Been trying for over 6 weeks. Still no response. So spare yourselves the additional heartache. As indicated above, Microsoft purports to offer security for users but once you die...your computer and all data on it ARE locked/gone/beyond reach...and Microsoft doesn't care. They say they are "protecting" your privacy...even the courts recognize that as the executor or next of kin, that is my job. Microsoft doesn't care. Spare me the "you could be a bad guy" argument. There are ways of verifying, not foolproof I agree, but Microsoft won't even pretend to try to verify. The banks, the credit card companies have all accepted evidence my father has passed away. Microsoft won't even acknowledge my emails. The link above takes you to the same tired site saying contact msrecord @ Microsoft. com...don't bother. NO one answers those emails. It's a scam. Don't waste your time. If you find someone who can help access your family member's or friend's computer, count your blessings. Otherwise, don't look to Microsoft for help. It ain't available.

The only advice we can give historically without running afoul of helping to crack a password for someone we don't know for sure is the owner is to How to refresh, reset, or restore your PC - Windows Help   or Clean Install Windows 8.1 using the bootable media created at Create installation media for Windows 8.1.  Both options include steps to save files if needed.

 

By using the bootable media to Reset or Reinstall it will not prompt for password so is the solution when the PC has for whatever reason passed into new hands and ready for new ownership. 

This has the added benefit of being normally a much better install than the factory install, especially if one chooses the Reset saving only files instead of any Factory recovery option that is present. 

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I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Over 100,000 helped in forums for 10 years. I don't quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-20

Microsoft will not give you access to a deceased person's computer.

They will give you access to their data on their email account (Outlook.com). but not the Computer.

That is why I gave advice in my original reply here on what to do to get access to the Computer.

And I already posted the information about Microsoft's Policy for Passwords:

Microsoft forbids any assistance being given in these Forums to help you bypass or "crack" lost or forgotten Passwords.

Here is the Microsoft Information outlining that Policy:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-security/keeping-passwords-secure-microsoft-policy-on/39f56ef0-5d68-41ad-9daa-6e6019c25d37

And for other posters here these are 8.1 forums, not 10.

Regards.

EDIT: Good to see that the Windows 10 information poster changed his information to Windows 8.1.

___________________________________________________

Bill Smithers - Microsoft MVP July 2013 - Dec 2020

In my case we have two issues: first we want to get his email data so we can ensure any/all issues relating to his estate are resolved including notifying friends/associates of his passing. Second we need access to his computer, which is locked with his email password. I understand these are two separate issues. And I understand we have to accept that his computer is now just a big paperweight (a new, expensive paperweight). And the computer companies are celebrating his death because they get to sell us a new computer we can access. 

But I take exception to the response saying Microsoft will give access to email data: 

I've been trying for six weeks to get that data. Other threads on this site say to email *** Email address is removed for privacy *** and they will tell you what they need then they will send you a disk of email data. It's a lie. Been waiting six weeks. Sent four emails. Nothing. Not a word a hint or a suggestion of how one goes about getting access to a loved one's email data. Not even the courtesy of "we're busy" or a "wrong email" response. Nothing. 

I stand by my statement that Microsoft will NOT allow access to a deceased relative's email, in any format, regardless of what is on these forums. If anyone has managed to get Microsoft to give them access to a deceased relative's email account data, congrats. Maybe you could share how you managed that accomplishment because nothing has been successful for me. 

A question for those in this thread who think that MS should be at the ready to provide access to the private information of deceased people:  Understanding that there are many different laws internationally that deal with this sort of thing, and there are over one billion Windows installations worldwide, and approximately 155,000 people die every day, what sort of economically responsible infrastructure do you envision that would facilitate the information being released?

I've frankly never heard of and wouldn't expect any email provider to give access upon someone's death unless a judge ordered it as part of probate which would then be up to the caprices of serving a court order to someone who would have access (good luck).  I would expect any relative of mine to either have left a trail to find their password or wouldn't expect to be able to access their email at all.  This should be something each person considers about whether they even want relatives or others to access this private information after their death, so that they either make arrangements in advance or it is lost and sealed as assumed is their wish. 

As to the PC, I've already said it can be reset or recovered to start service as good as new, even better actually since the factory install is half as good as what a Reset or Reinstall from boot media will do absent the factory recovery image being imposed.  This has nothing to do with the previous owner's private data but is like the consideration of other private property (a car, house, etc) that gets passed along under a will or normal disposition.  One does not lose access to a car or house just because these are missing the keys, nor a PC just because the password is lost.  If it becomes your legal property you can Reset or Reinstall. 

This is my personal view and doesn't represent anything other than seeing other similar circumstances and how they have been adjudged to be best handled for years in Forums by practice and rules. One firm rule has always been that we cannot help crack a password  because it would make it too convenient to crack.  But assuming the property changes hands legally we've always been allowed to suggest Reinstall or Reset. 

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I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Over 100,000 helped in forums for 10 years. I don't quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-20

Your point is valid, many people have private details in their email and on their computer they don't want their loved ones to find. And aside from the nightmare of trying to identify creditors in this electronic world (I have several debts that only exist in the emailed invoices), we aren't talking a house or a car. Those are physical assets. Computers, and even phones have become so much more. 

In this age of digital everything there are few printed photos, no negatives, no hand written cards or letters. Our lives seem to exist only in the bits and bytes on our computers and phones. There can and should be some way of recovering those details. This experience has made me reconsider all things digital. If I were to die tomorrow, then my family would not be able to retrieve the 20+ years of family history research I have done. They would not be able to retrieve the dozens and dozens of family photos that now only exist in digital format and that I would want to pass along. They would not have contact with the distant relatives I never knew existed and who I only communicate with by email. All because I practice good security and don't share my password. 

So as Greg says, think about what's on your computer and phone. If you don't want it shared, delete it or lock it up in a file or on a cloud or some place private. If there are things you want to share with your loved ones, if you should die tomorrow....how will they know? Whatever steps you take...remember they need to be kept current. Change your password, change your plan. Every 30-90 days...for the rest of your life. I'm kind of missing the old days. :(

If i added something to a will expressing microsoft to give my password to my family on my death would they have to abide by this or could they ignore it like my emails to them?

If i added something to a will expressing microsoft to give my password to my family on my death would they have to abide by this or could they ignore it like my emails to them?
Talk to a lawyer.

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Last updated September 26, 2020 Views 18,930 Applies to: