Our digital lives are heavily intertwined with our “real” lives, and Apple is finally starting to acknowledge that. The data that lives in our iCloud accounts is not only important to us, but also to our family members. Now, there’s a way for our loved ones to access our digital data when we no longer can.
How Apple’s Legacy Contacts work
Starting in iOS 15.2, iPad OS 15.2, and macOS 12.1, Apple has made it possible to assign a Legacy Contact who can take over your digital data in the event of your death. As this is Apple, it’s all done in a secure way, and there are safeguards involved as well.
The Legacy Contact will require a unique Access Key and a death certificate (verified by Apple) in order to request access to your data, including iCloud Photos, notes, emails, reminders, health data, and your iCloud backups. They won’t be able to access payment information and data stored in your Keychain (like usernames and passwords).
How to assign a Legacy Contact
For this feature to work, both parties need to be running iOS 15.2 or higher. After updating, open the “Settings” app and choose your Profile from the top and go to Password & Security > Legacy Contact. Tap the “Add Legacy Contact” button from the bottom of the screen.
Here, you can choose someone who’s already added to your Family account, or you can choose someone else from your contact list. Then, tap the “Continue” button again.
Choose the “Send a Message” option to send the Access Key to the contact via a message. You can choose to print it as well. Tap the “Send” button to send the message. And then choose the “Done” option to finish setting up.
Once the person accepts the Access Key, they’ll be added to the Legacy Contact section. You can add more than one person to this list.
How to edit or remove a Legacy Contact
You can remove a Legacy Contact any time you want. Go to Settings > Profile > Password & Security > Legacy Contact. Here, choose the person’s name, and tap the “Remove Contact” button to get started.
How to access iPhone data after someone’s death
If you’re a Legacy Contact for someone who has passed away, you’ll need to use Apple’s Digital Legacy website to retrieve their data.
After opening the Digital Legacy site, click the “Request Access” button to get started. You’ll need the Access Key, and the death certificate to retrieve their data.