Create a legacy contact for your Apple ID

By Mary-Benham B. Nygren

How many photos to you have stored on your digital device that you would want your family members to have after your death? I know that I have a lot of pictures from family gatherings, sporting events, and holidays that I want to share with them, just like the hard copy photo albums from my childhood.

Apple and other digital platforms are addressing the difficulties of accessing digital content after your death.

What can an Apple Legacy Contact access?

Apple allows users to designate a Legacy Contact who will be able to access the following after your death:

  • Cloud Photos
  • Notes
  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Messages in iCloud
  • Call history
  • Files stored in iCloud Drive
  • Health Data
  • Voice Memos
  • Safari Bookmarks and Reading List
  • iCloud Backup

Your Legacy Contact, however, will not be able to access licensed media (movies, music, books), in-app purchases (subscriptions, game currency), payment information (credit cards saved to Apple Pay), and your Keychain (user names, passwords, internet accounts, credit card information, and Wi-Fi passwords).

How do you designate a Legacy Contact?

To add a Legacy Contact, you first need to make sure that your Apple device is running iOS 15.2, iPad 15.2 and macOS 12.1 along with two-factor authentication turned on for your Apple ID.

Once you establish your Legacy Contact using Apple’s instructions, you must share your Legacy Contact Access Key with your Legacy Contact in order for Apple to allow the contact access after your death.

Your Legacy Contact does not need to have an Apple ID or an Apple device.

Can you add more than one Legacy Contact?

You can designate one or more Legacy Contacts for your Apple ID.

Can you remove a Legacy Contact?

You can remove a Legacy Contact at any time within the Legacy Contact section of your Apple ID settings.

How does a Legacy Contact get access after your death?

After your death, your Legacy Contact can request access either directly on your Apple device or on the web. The Legacy Contact will need to provide Apple with:

  • The access key you created/shared with the contact
  • Your death certificate (in pdf, jpeg, or other digital format)

Upon receipt of the access request, Apple will send an email confirming the access request to your Legacy Contact’s email address as well as the email address associated with your Apple ID for security purposes. Apple will then verify the request before granting access.

For how long will a Legacy Contact have access after your death?

A Legacy Contact’s access to your data will end three years after the first Legacy Contact’s request for access is approved. After the three-year period, the legacy account is permanently deleted.

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Mary-Benham B. Nygren


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