From working at the Library, I’ve learned a lot of things, helping people from all walks of life with more different queries than I could count. Unfortunately, something that has affected a surprising large group of people I’ve met are death of a loved one and wanting access to their data.
Modern systems are designed to be secure which can be double edged blade. They’re designed to protect people from being impersonated through multi-factor authentication (something you know, have or are) although they have weak points such as the swap-sim method but this enhanced security can end up locking out loved ones if the worst happens.
The most common situation I have had is with Windows laptops (mix of 7-10) where family have passed and people want to see their photos or files from their laptop which is sorted easily with Hirens (if legacy BIOS) or the sticky keys command prompt method (if UEFI boot), the problem here is that if people have BitLocker or FileVault enabled I can’t help them (which is on the other hand great for stopping thieves), with Google having a process to request access but if it’s an Apple device you’re out of luck as they don’t unlock devices for security reasons. I’ve had several people with iPads which are activation locked by the deceased’s Apple ID so cannot be used again nor purchases be accessed (making the device a very expensive paperweight).
On the other side of this, devices becoming harder to break into is good as if your device falls into the wrong hands it’s safe, and you’re protected from being forced to hand over data if your device has been seized (or copied at a border).
If you have important files on your devices (sentimental or otherwise), record your passwords somewhere for in case the worse happens. If you use a password manager (like 1Password, LastPass or KeyPass) the easiest way to protect yourself from disaster is to create yourself an emergency kit and lock it away in a safe or filing cabinet which can be accessed if something was to happen to you. Be proactive in these situations, don’t leave it to others to be reactive.