I hate to tell you, but one day you will die. And when that happens, you may want your loved ones to have access to all the data you have stored on your Apple account.
That may seem like a minor consideration in the bigger scheme of things, but items like photos, messages, and notes can have some value — real or sentimental — to the people you leave behind. Fortunately, a feature added in iOS 15 makes it easy to set up old contacts who can access your Apple account after you pass.
Apple has added a Digital Legacy Contacts feature to its phone and tablet software with the iOS 15.2 update. macOS 12.1 also supports Legacy Contacts.
Adding contacts to your account is a simple process, with just a few taps, with the benefits extending long after you leave this earthly plane. Here’s how to set up a Legacy Contact on your iPhone and what exactly your designated contacts can retrieve after your death.
To set up a Legacy Contact on your iPhone, make sure your iPhone is running iOS 15.2 or later. You must also have two-factor authentication set up for your Apple account.
1. Launch the Settings app and tap your name at the top of the screen to access your Apple ID account.
2. Select Password & Securityand then on the next screen, tap Outdated Contact†
3. Tap Add old contact. You may be presented with a splash screen asking you to confirm your choice to add a contact.
4. The contacts saved on your phone will appear. Select the contact you want to set as your old contact. On the next screen, select an email address or phone number for your contact.
5. You will be told what your old contact has access to and you will be asked to do so tap Continue to confirm.
6. Select the method for sharing your access key. You can print the key or send your contact person a message; the latter option automatically saves the passkey on your contact’s device, which is why I prefer it. If you choose to send a message to your contact, you must confirm that choice.
You will receive an email confirmation from Apple stating that a Legacy Contact has been added to your account.
If you prefer to set up an old contact from your Mac, use a computer with macOS 12.1 or later. Go to System Preferences on your Mac and select Apple ID. Click Password & Security followed by Legacy Contact and follow the instructions to add a contact.
You are not limited to just one Legacy Contact. By repeating the steps above, you can add others to your list of trusted contacts who can retrieve information after you die.
To access your account, your old contact will need the access key you created for them, whether you shared it via message or printed the information. They will also need a copy of your death certificate.
Data that older contacts can access includes photos, messages, notes, download apps, and device backups. However, these contacts cannot access movies, books, or subscriptions that you purchased with your Apple ID.
Password information stored in your Keychain is also off limits. Apple offers a full list of what old contacts can and cannot access†
A Legacy Contact must request access to your account from Apple. there is a web page to do this, although they can also make that request from their iOS device or Mac.
On an iOS device, passkey information is stored in Settings under Password & Security > Outdated Contact; tapping a person’s name gives the option to request access from Apple. Mac users can submit their request through Password & Security in System Preferences.
Now that you’ve set up your Legacy Contact, you can discover other iPhone tips and tricks, whether it’s through our iPhone 13 home guide or new iOS 15.4 features like the ability to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask.