The death of a loved one always takes an emotional toll on you, but in the digital age, it is important to know that the data of your late loved one is not running loose on the Internet. At WWDC this year, Apple made some improvements to iCloud under digital legacy and account recovery under iOS 15.

Digital Legacy allows you to select a contact and give access to your iOS data in the event of your death. iOS 15 will not be available until fall this year, but you can download and try out the public beta at this time.

Benefits of Legacy Contact

Apple did not go into much detail about the service at WWDC but shared a demo during the presentation to shed some light on what Legacy Contact can and cannot do.

Once you’ve set up a digital legacy service, your selected legacy contact can view your data – photos, emails, notes, etc. – by logging into iCloud.com. You can also download or restore a copy of your data from privacy.apple.com. The contact you choose will not have access to your payment information, such as stored credit cards, membership logins, licensed media, or keychains.

According to the images shown during WWDC, once a legacy contact is granted access, they have limited time to access the data of deceased loved ones. After the time limit expires, Apple will remove it.

How To Do It

You can follow these steps to set up a digital legacy on your iPhone

1. Make sure your Apple device is running iOS 15.

2. Open your iPhone settings.

3. Tap your name at the top of the screen.

4. Select Password & Security.

5. Tap on Legacy Contact (option should be under Account Recovery).

6. Press Add Legacy Contact (you will also be prompted a second time).

7. Enter your Apple ID password to sign in.

8. Your contacts will open and you can select the person you want to be your legacy contact. Apple opens their info and you can tap their phone number.

9. Press Continue.

From there, Apple generates an access key for your account. Your legacy contact will need an access key to download your data at the time of your death. Finally, you will be prompted to print your access key. Apple recommends that you include a copy of your estate planning documents, as well as share them directly with your contacts.

Proof of Death

If you have inherited an account of a deceased loved one – even if you do not have an access key – you can request access to their account and remove the activation lock from their device, according to the Apple website. You will need proof of death to remove their Apple ID and activation lock on their devices. In addition to iOS upgrades for devices, Apple announced its digital legacy service at the WWDC 2021 in June.

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