How to Set Up Digital Legacy on Your iPhone

Set up access to your phone after you've passed on

What to Know

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security > Legacy Contact > Add Legacy Contact.
  • You can choose a contact from your Family Sharing group or elsewhere, and you can have multiple legacy contacts.
  • When someone needs to access your account, they should go to Apple's Digital Legacy page and enter the authorization code.

This article will teach you how to set a legacy contact on your iPhone; the person you select will be able to access your account after you die. Instructions apply to iPhones running iOS 15.2 and later.

What Is iPhone Legacy?

Starting in iOS 15.2, Apple Digital Legacy provides a way for an iPhone user to grant one or more contacts access to their phone and iCloud account after their death. This feature ensures that a person's photos, notes, and other important information aren't lost to time once their owner can't access them anymore.

How Do I Set Up Legacy on My iPhone?

Follow these steps to designate legacy contacts on your iPhone.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap your name/photo at the top of the screen.

  3. Choose Password & Security.

  4. Select Legacy Contact.

    Password & Security and Legacy Contact options in iOS 15
  5. On the next screen, tap Add Legacy Contact.

  6. The next screen contains information about this feature. Choose Add Legacy Contact again to continue.

  7. If you have people in your Family Sharing group, iOS will recommend them first. Tap the circle next to their name, or select Choose Someone Else to pick someone else from your contact list.

    Options for adding legacy contacts on an iPhone
  8. Select Next.

  9. The next screen contains information about which information your designated contact will have access to. Review it and choose Continue.

  10. Tap Print a Copy on the next screen to make a hard copy of the authorization code your contact(s) will need to access your information.

    Your legacy contact can't get into your account without the code. Apple will add the authorization to the Apple IDs of legacy contacts running iOS 15.2 and up; otherwise, you should print out a copy of the authorization and then either share it with your contacts or keep it with your other important papers.

    Designating a contact for Apple Digital Legacy
  11. Repeat these steps to add more contacts to your Digital Legacy list.

You can also set up and manage legacy contacts in macOS Monterey (12.1) and later by going to System Preferences > Apple ID > Passwords & Security and then following these directions.

How Does Apple Legacy Work?

The people you designate for Apple Digital Legacy can't access your information right away. They'll also need a copy of your death certificate, which they'll submit either through their phone or on Apple's Digital Legacy site. Once someone makes the first request, the data will be available for three years. After that, Apple will delete the legacy account.

If someone adds you, and you're running iOS 15.2 and later, you can find the authorization by going to Settings > [name] > Password & Security > Legacy Contact. Alternatively, you don't have to accept someone's request to be their legacy contact; you can either ask them to remove you or delete the information from your account, if applicable.

Information that contacts can see may via Apple Digital Legacy include:

  • Calendars
  • Call history
  • Contacts
  • Health Data
  • iCloud data (including apps, photos, videos, backups, messages, and iCloud Drive files)
  • Mail
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Safari Bookmarks/Reading List
  • Voice Memos

Here's a list of data that won't be available:

  • In-app purchases
  • Keychain information, including passwords and accounts
  • Payment information
  • Purchased media (e.g., books, movies, and music)

A legacy contact also doesn't need to be another Apple user. All they need are the necessary paperwork—a death certificate and the authorization code.

Anyone with the code and a death certificate can get into the attached Apple account. Make sure you only provide hard copies of the authorization to people you want to see your information.

  • How do I recover my iPhone from a backup?

    To restore your iPhone from a backup, go to Settings > your name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups. If you don't see your backup, go to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. This will erase the data on your iPhone and replace it with the backup from iCloud.

  • Can I downgrade my version of iOS?

    Yes. To downgrade iOS, download the old version on your computer. Then, put your device into Recovery Mode, connect it to your computer, and open iTunes. Select the iPhone icon, hold down Option/Shift, and select Restore iPhone.

  • How do I recover my iPhone password?

    If you forget your iPhone passcode, all you can do is reset your iPhone and erase everything on the device. If you're locked out of your Apple ID account, you can unlock it if you set up Apple Account Recovery.

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