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How to use Apple’s legacy contact feature to give your family access to your photos and data after your death


Apple in iOS 15.2 makes it easier for your loved ones to access your personal information in the event of your death with the addition of Legacy Contact. The person set as your legacy contact receives a special code that can be delivered to Apple along with a death certificate to unlock your device.

The legacy contact you set up will have access to your messages, photos, notes, and other sensitive data, plus the ability to remove the activation lock from your devices, so this is a feature that can be turned on and should be reserved for your most trusted contact. This will walk you through how to enable legacy contacts, cover how to access data after death, and list some data to be accessed.

iOS 15.2 is currently available in beta, but will be available to the public later this fall.

Adding a legacy contact only takes a few steps, but both people involved in the process must have iOS 15.2 or later.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Touch a profile picture to access Apple ID settings.
  3. Touch Password and Security.
  4. Touch Inherited Contact. inherited contact setting
  5. Tap Add legacy contact.
  6. On the pop-up screen that describes the feature, tap Add legacy contact.
  7. Authentication using Face ID, Touch ID or password.
  8. Apple will suggest members of your family if you have Family Sharing enabled. Tap a family member’s name or select “Choose someone else” to choose from your contact list.
  9. Once the person is selected, tap Next. obsolete contact setting 2
  10. On the screen that describes how Legacy Contact works, tap Continue.
  11. Choose how to share your access key. You can send an iMessage to the contact with your key or you can print a copy of it. obsolete contact shared access key
  12. After you send a message or print your inherited contact information, the person is officially set up as the person who can request your information.
  13. Repeat the procedure if you want to set up another old contact. You can have more.

For security reasons, Apple reviews all requests from old contacts before allowing access to the data. Your inherited contact will need access to your date of birth, your death certificate, and the access key you set.

inherited contact access key message


The passkey is printed or sent in iMessage and must be stored in the secure location of the person you set as your contact. Apple offers a very long multi-digit key that is a mixture of letters and numbers and a QR code that is easy to scan. Apple provides the following information to your contact.

As [person]’s inherited contact, you will be able to access data from [person]’s account and remove Activation Lock on their devices after their death.

Because the date of birth is used as an authentication measure, your date of birth must be set precisely in the settings of your device. You can ensure that it is set by opening the Settings app, tapping the profile picture, selecting “Name, Phone Numbers, Email” and adding or updating by tapping the “Birthday” list.

In the event of your death, your inherited contact will need to collect the access key provided to him when he was placed as a contact, as well as a copy of your death certificate.

Apple instructs your legacy contact to visit digital-legacy.apple.com to begin the authentication process. The legacy contact will need to sign in with their “Apple ID” and provide the necessary information to Apple.

Apple digital legacy website


To access your data, an access key is required. If the passkey is not available, your family can still remove Activation Lock from your devices, but your account and data will need to be removed first, and the process requires a death certificate.

There is a waiting time to get approval through the Digital Legacy process implemented by Apple, and status updates are available on the Digital Legacy website.

Your legacy contact will have access to the following information on your devices.

  • Photos
  • Messages
  • Notes
  • Files
  • Downloaded applications and related data
  • Contacts
  • Calendar events
  • Device backups

ICloud Keychain logins and passwords will not be available, nor will any licensed media be available.

According to Apple, your legacy contact can see your information on iCloud.com or download a copy from privacy.apple.com. The data can also be viewed directly on the Apple device.

You can remove the legacy contact you set up at any time by revoking access to your information. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Touch your profile picture to access the pApple ID‌ settings.
  3. Touch Password and Security.
  4. Touch Inherited Contact.
  5. Touch the name of the person whose access you want to remove. remove the inherited contact
  6. Select Remove contact.
  7. When a warning appears telling you that the person will not be able to access your data after your death, select Remove contact.

From there, the person will be removed and the access key they received will no longer work to access your data after your death.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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