Set up a Legacy Contact on your iPhone

We are so connected to our devices and accounts that you wonder what happens when you die. What happens to all our stuff?

You can manage your digital business, and it’s not much different than doing the same with your home and belongings. Leave it in the hands of someone you trust. Facebook has an option to set up an old contact who can manage your friends, messages, and tags, and even close the account. We’ve included the feature in our Critical Security Controls report. Tap or click here for more information.

Jerry from Pennsylvania is a widower of 89 years old. He prepares for the future with long-term care insurance, a will, an end-of-life will and has entrusted two family members with powers of attorney. He recently heard about Apple’s Legacy Contact feature and wants to know if it’s secure and otherwise worth using.

Plan ahead

Apple’s Legacy Contact is safe and worth using. The feature debuted with iOS 15.2 as a secure option for giving someone access to data stored in your Apple account after you’re gone. The data includes photos, messages, notes, files, apps, device backups, and more.

Some information, such as movies, music, books, or subscriptions purchased with your Apple ID and data stored in Keychain (payment information, passwords), cannot be accessed by an old contact.

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You can add more than one old contact and they all have access to the account to make decisions.

RELATED: Leaving a Digital Legacy


If you’ve been added as an old contact and want to request access to an account, you’ll need:

The access key created when you were chosen as a Legacy Contact. The Death Certificate. You must be over 13 years of age to be a Legacy Contact.

Apple reviews Legacy Contacts access requests and will not approve access to a deceased person’s data until after verifying the above information. You will be given a Legacy Contact Apple ID to access the data if you are approved. You will receive an email with more details and instructions.

The deceased’s Apple ID will no longer work and the Activation Lock will be removed on all devices that use their Apple ID. Access to the old account is limited to three years from the date you were approved. After that, the old account will be permanently deleted.

The key

When someone adds you as an old contact, they create an access key to share with you, which works whether you have an Apple device or not.

If you have an Apple device with iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, or macOS 12.1 or later and someone in your Family Sharing group adds you as a Legacy Contact, or you receive a Legacy Contact request, the access key is automatically saved in the Apple ID settings on Your device.

If you are using older software, you will receive a notification from Legacy Contact and need to update your device to save the access key.

If you don’t have an Apple device, you can get the access key directly from the person who will give it to you. Make sure to keep it in a safe place.

Add an old contact

You must be at least 13 years old and have two-factor authentication to add a Legacy Contact. Here’s how to set it up on your iPhone:

Open Settings and tap your name. Go to Password & Security > Outdated Contact. Tap Add obsolete contact. You may need to use Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode to authenticate. If you’re part of a Family Sharing group, you can choose a member of the group. Or you can tap Choose someone else to add someone from your contacts. Select the person from your contacts. Tap Continue. You will be asked how you want to share your access key. Select Print Access Key or Send Access Key. If you choose to send the key digitally, Apple will create a message letting your contact know that you’ve added them as your old contact. Tap Send.

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