When it’s time to get your affairs in order and plan for end of life, there’s one thing not a lot of people think about or realize they need to plan for: their digital assets. Nowadays, most everyone has some kind of digital footprint, whether it be on social media, on one’s smartphone, or in the Cloud. What happens to your stored photos, your online accounts, or your social media content when you pass away?

One thing’s for sure, you will not be able to “break in” to your loved one’s smartphone once they’re gone, as a set PIN number or facial recognition will stop you in your tracks. Not even the federal government can hack into an iPhone, as Apple will not help anyone unlock their devices per their privacy policy. You’ll need a Legacy Contact to have any access to your loved one’s digital records. Let’s take a look at how you can become better prepared through legacy planning.

Apple ID Legacy Contact

If you own an Apple product, such as an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, you’ll be able to choose a legacy contact through Apple’s new Digital Legacy Service. This service allows a legacy contact of your choosing to have access to the content held within your Apple ID. Unlike giving a loved one the PIN to unlock your phone, this service allows your contact to navigate the files, apps, and information stored in your Apple ID as if they were you.

Apple has built the Digital Legacy Service into the settings of your iPhone as well as a new feature within IOS15.2. Setting your legacy contact on your smartphone or mobile device is easier than you might expect. It’s as easy as going to the settings, clicking on your Apple ID, and choosing “Password & Security.” Once there, you’ll see an option for “Legacy Contact.” Select that option and choose your contact(s). If you no longer wish for someone to be your contact, or if they have passed away themselves, it is just as easy to remove them from your account. Here is an article from TechRadar that further explains Apple ID legacy contacts.

If you want to learn more, visit Apple’s support page that dives further into what is needed, such as a Legacy Contact access key or whether or not you’ll need a court order or any other legal paperwork.

For Google and Android users, you’ll have to request an Inactive Account Manager on your account. This acts as a “secondary account” that can see certain account information that you’ve chosen beforehand, including Google Pay, Chat, Calendar, Photos, and much more.

Facebook Legacy Contact

Facebook also has an option for setting a legacy contact. Just as with the Apple ID, your Facebook legacy contact will have limited control of your Facebook page. However, they will not be able to log into your account and post as you around Facebook. Legacy contacts are able to download all your content—if you have that feature turned on—as well as pin a memorial post on your page for your friends and family to see. They are also able to change your cover and profile photos.

However, your legacy contact cannot accept new friendships on your behalf, nor can they delete existing friends off your profile. If you have certain photos or content on Facebook you know your family will want to keep, this is an option allowing them to download them, as well as give the rest of your Facebook friends closure on the final chapter of your life.

Your Legacy Contact also has the option of keeping your page as a memorial page or deleting it altogether. Keep in mind that you’ll want to be shrewd when it comes to choosing your Legacy Contact for Facebook, as the wrong person (such as a third husband or a family friend) could simply delete your page when your loved ones would have wanted to keep your page as a memorial or download your photos and messages.

Other Social Media

For other social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your loved ones will need to contact them directly with an obituary or a death certificate to make your profile a memorial page only. For Twitter, however, rights are given to deactivate the account. Your loved ones will not be able to post any final messages on these platforms.

If your social media has a significant online presence or one that has monetary value, make sure to include your various social media channels in your estate plan.

Make sure you ask your loved ones first before assigning them as your legacy contact(s). They’ll need to know they have access when the time comes, and how to access your accounts. It’s quick and easy to set up your legacy contacts, and your loved ones will be so glad you did it.

At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers can help you set up legacy contacts for your Apple ID or social media. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how we can guide you through the process.