Keep Your Digital Assets Safe and Secure with the New iPhone Legacy Contact Feature

Dear Friends,

In one of our past newsletters, we talked about the importance of keeping our digital assets safe and secure. As a firm, we’ve counseled our clients over the years to have a plan for their digital assets if incapacitated and indicate who and what their successor should have access to. I was recently reminded of our digital asset planning when I came across an article about Apple’s new Digital Legacy setting.

This new feature solves what has been a complicated problem. Until this new feature, when a loved one or family member passed away, it was very difficult to access their digital information locked away in their iPhone, MacBook, and so on, unless you knew their passcode, or the deceased planned for this exact scenario by providing detailed instructions.

Now, with the new update to Apple’s iOS 15.2, you can easily plan and designate up to five people as Legacy Contacts. These contacts can access the data and personal information stored in your iCloud account. This information includes old messages, photos, documents, and other media that may hold invaluable sentimental worth to the family. Once the Legacy Contact is set up, your designated contact will have to provide Apple with a death certificate and an access key – this is a small hurdle to save these valuables for what was once nearly an impossible task which required a court order.

Here’s how to set it up on your iOS device:

  • Go to “Settings” > (Your Name) > Password & Security – If on a Mac, go to “System Preferences” > Apple ID > Password & Security
  • Under “Legacy Contact,” simply follow the instructions to add a contact. If Family Sharing is on, you can choose someone from that list, or you can add someone using their phone number or email.
  • Next, notify your Legacy Contact and share the access key. If the Legacy Contact accepts, this access key is automatically stored in their Apple ID. If they decline for one reason or another, you will receive a notification.

If attempting to add someone who does not use the updated version of an Apple device (e.g., Android/Windows users), they will not be able to automatically store the access code on their device, so this code will need to be provided to them and stored in another manner.

How We Can Help

If your digital asset protection needs have changed in the past year, we encourage you to revisit your estate plan options with us.

We offer client maintenance through a variety of ways, all aimed to confirm an estate plan that accurately reflects your goals and needs. Whether it’s scheduling a Legal Check-Up or signing up for our Annual Maintenance Program, we hope our clients take the time to update their plans for the new year. If you are interested in setting up a check-in meeting or signing up for our maintenance program, you may contact [email protected] to be added to our calendar.


Anna Byrne