Talking about death isn’t easy, but it is important. Losing a loved one is difficult, and with all of the digital information we store these days, it can be increasingly hard to gain access to essential data and documents.
Apple is solving this problem with Legacy Contacts — a new feature launched in iOS 15.2. It allows designated individuals to gain access to a relative’s account upon their death.
You might be wondering why that’s important. If the deceased had any photos or videos that their loved ones would like to access or documents and data related to billing accounts.
What is Apple’s Legacy Contact
The Digital Legacy program lets you pass your information to family and friends upon your death. In addition, you can add up to 5 Legacy Contacts to your account.
Think about this. You die unexpectedly, and all of your photos, contacts, documents, notes, and more are locked on your Apple device that’s password-protected, and you’re the only one who knew the password.
Keeping the password to yourself is the right call, but it makes it impossible for anyone to access the information. Even Apple won’t release this information without a court order. However, with Digital Legacy set up, your loved ones will be able to access this information quickly and securely.
How to Add a Legacy Contact
You can add a Legacy Contact from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
On your iPhone or iPad
- Open Settings
- Tap your Name
- Choose Password and Security
- Select Legacy Contact, you’ll be prompted again
- Enter your Apple ID password
- Your contacts will open, and you can choose your Legacy Contact
- Now tap Continue
Apple will now generate an access key for your account. Your Legacy Contact will need that key to access and download your data.
Finally, Apple will prompt you to print or message your Access Key. It should be included in your estate planning documents, as well as sharing it with the contact you chose.
What Data Can Your Legacy Contacts See
They’ll be able to access the following information, including
- Mail Notes
- Calendar Events
However, they will not have access to information like iCloud Keychain, payment information, subscriptions, and licensed media.
There’s also an expiration date on the data. Meaning you’ll have a certain number of days to download all the data once you’ve requested it. Apple does allow you to directly import data to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
When you request a copy of the data, Apple securely packages the contents in a Zip file, which your Legacy Contact can download. Every step of the process is encrypted, and none of the data can be seen by Apple.
I’m a Legacy Contact. How do I Request Access
You will be able to request their data from the Digital Legacy site.
You’ll need to provide the person’s death certificate and the Access Key created when you were added as a Legacy Contact.
The Difference Between a Legacy Contact and Recovery Contact
Apple added these two new features for gaining access to your account.
Recovery Contact is simply a way for you to regain access to your account if you forget your password or get locked out of your device.
You are still accessing your “own” account. Your trusted contact is simply giving you a code that has been given to them via Apple when you need it.
Digital Legacy is a feature that allows someone else to access your accounts but only in the event of your death. Additionally, Legacy Contacts and Recovery Contacts do not have to be the same individual.
Deleting a Legacy Contact
- Open Settings
- Tap your profile name at the top
- Choose Passwords & Security
- Select Legacy Contact
- Now choose the name of the individual you want to delete
- Below View Access Key tap Remove
- Select Remove again to confirm
Digital Legacy is a valuable tool in this digital era. If you have any questions or comments, post them below. You can check out this article What Happens to Your Digital Life When You Die for even more information.