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5 reasons to update your digital legacy *right now*

Still need to update your phone to the latest iOS (yeah, yeah, I'll do it tomorrow)? There's one new feature you should probably start using - before it's too late.

It might not be ideal cocktail chat, but it’s time to put your big girl pants on and talk about what happens if you die – a terrible enough notion in itself but if you’ve been unlucky enough to lose someone close to you, you’ll also know. what a nightmare it can be to get access to precious data like family photos that might be on lost ones’ phones and computers.

In the light of Apple’s new iOS update, which includes a feature that’ll make the whole sad business a tiny bit easier, we spoke to expert Megan Tiddy at Lightfoots Solicitors in Thame about why you should hit that ‘Update’ button ASAP.

Apple has made it easier for your loved ones to access your important info then?

So much of our personal data is now digital, whether that’s perfect pictures of our pets, important documentation or even monetary assets such as Cryptocurrency. But what happens when you die? How do our loved ones get access to our digital belongings? If your data is trapped behind a password, it can be really difficult for those left behind to find out how to access it – or even worry if they should. Luckily, Apple’s new iOS 15.2 update includes a Digital Legacy feature that’ll make the process a whole lot smoother.

What do we need to do to activate it?

The Digital Legacy feature gives you the option to choose up to five specific people who can access your iCloud account after you die. This allows them access to your photographs and messages – but only once you have passed away. Your chosen contacts will provide a code from the app, as well as your death certificate, to get access to your iCloud.

How painful is it to set up?

All you need to do is ensure you have the latest iOS update, go to your ‘Settings’ and click ‘Password and Security’. You’ll then see the ‘Legacy Contact’ option where you can select your chosen people. You’ll then receive an access code, which you can tuck away for safe keeping for your contacts to use if they need to access your iCloud. Alternatively, you can set it up so that your account is deleted upon notification of your death. Both options are extremely useful for dealing with your digital property. 

What’s the main benefit for families?

You’ll save legal costs and emotional stress! This is a massive jump forward for solicitors and iCloud users alike. Previously, it was notoriously difficult to access a deceased person’s account, with a court order being required before relatives could get any sort of digital access. With this new feature, the need to do so would be greatly diminished.

Can we manage our digital legacy on social media too?

In short, yes! This is just the start of an innovative way of dealing with our digital presence when we die. For example, Facebook also has a legacy contact feature (similar to Apple) where just the one person is appointed to deal with an account once the user has passed away. Similarly, Google has an inactive account manager which notifies your appointed contact when you have been inactive for 18 months.

If you have any questions or want to draft or update your Will (er, better late than never), drop Lightfoots Solicitors a message at probate@lightfoots.co.uk – I’ve literally just updated my own with them, so it’s a personal recommendation! Right, I’m off to update my phone…

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