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14th February, 2022

Apple’s Digital Legacy – setting up access to your iCloud account after you die

multiple multi coloured apple products on a white background

You probably store a lot of important information, and some of your best memories, on your Apple devices and in iCloud.

Until now, it has proved to be a battle for bereaved family members and friends to gain access to data stored on their loved one’s Apple devices, such as photos and contacts, which are then deemed to be lost. But Apple’s new Digital Legacy feature allows your friends and family to access to your iCloud account after you pass away.

Grieving relatives have pushed Apple for a number of years to bring in a straightforward but secure way to access the contents of a loved one’s iCloud account after their death. Previously Apple have insisted on a Court Order before providing access to a deceased’s iCloud account.

The much-anticipated Digital Legacy feature allows you to add up to five ‘Legacy Contacts’ so that when you are gone, your chosen friends and family can request access to the information and memories stored in your iCloud account.

Your Legacy Contacts will be able to access photos, contacts, messages, mail, calendars, notes, files, and apps that are stored in your iCloud account. Certain information, such as passwords and payment information cannot be accessed by your Legacy Contacts.

Your Legacy Contacts can be anybody that you choose but should be those that you trust.

You can set up your Legacy Contacts from your iPhone and from your Mac. The feature can be set up in Settings > Your Apple ID > Password and Security > Legacy Contact. Once a Legacy Contact has been set up, an access key will be generated which must be shared with the Legacy Contact and kept in a safe place.

To request access to your iCloud account after you die, your Legacy Contacts will just need the access key and a copy of your death certificate. When an access request is approved, your Legacy Contact will have access to your iCloud account for three years before your account is permanently deleted. Your Legacy Contacts do not need to have their own Apple device or iCloud account to access the data stored in your account as this can be done online.

The update, which came into effect in December 2021, ensures that your privacy and security is not compromised by sharing the passwords to your digital assets while you are alive, whilst allowing a select number of people that you trust access to important information and memories once you die.

Whilst digital assets are often overlooked when estate planning, if you have friends or family that would benefit from access to the data stored in your iCloud account, it would be beneficial for you to set up a Legacy Contact.

Contact us for help and advice.

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