Estate Planning with Apple’s Legacy ContactClient Alert
What happens to your Apple ID account when you die? Apple has created a feature among its products which allows you to choose one or more people to have access to your Apple ID account following your death. Apple refers to the online tool as a “Legacy Contact.” An Apple user may designate anyone to be their Legacy Contact, including those who do not own an Apple device or have an Apple ID. You can send the legacy contact a message that includes the access key, or you can print off a copy and keep it with your estate documents. At any time before your death, you may remove someone from being a Legacy Contact. The person you have removed will not receive a notification that they have been removed. However, their access key will no longer work.
If you are named as someone’s Legacy Contact and the account holder has passed, you can access their data by submitting a request to Apple with the access key that you received and the account holder’s death certificate. Once this information has been verified and access has been approved, the Legacy Contact will receive a special Apple ID to access the account data. The data a Legacy Contact may access includes photos, notes, mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, messages, call history, health data, Safari bookmarks, voice memos, and files stored. The Legacy Contact’s access only lasts for three years, and the account will be deleted permanently following the three-year period.
Apple’s new feature has a significant impact on estate planning. Under Ohio law, online tools such as Apple’s Legacy Contact supersede contrary directions in a person’s will, trust, power of attorney, or other record. This means that if you do not name the same person to be your Legacy Contact as you name in your will or trust, your Legacy Contact may act contrary to what your will or trust states. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney when determining how to handle digital assets. Those who do not have a plan for their digital assets may be susceptible to identity theft, losses to the estate, exposure of secrets, and loss of sentimental data.