If you die, your Legacy Contacts can inherit your iCloud account (iOS 15.2)
Not so long ago, we went on a dedicated mission to find out exactly what happens to your iCloud account after you die. As morbid as the subject may sound, it is definitely something that most of us would like to at least know or be aware of.
And what we discovered a few months ago, was that Apple makes it essentially impossible for the family of a deceased person to get a hold of any data from their iCloud account. There was no outlined process for what the surviving relatives of the deceased should do, and even Apple employees themselves were largely kept in the dark in that regard.
Basically, the rules were that if you die, your personal data dies with you.
Apple seems to have taken notice of the horrible dilemmas this was creating for many bereaved families over time, however. And in the latest upcoming iOS update, we are glad to see that the company is finally implementing a more concrete system to allow the family of deceased iCloud account holders to inherit their personal data.
With iOS 15.2, Apple is bringing the ability to set up five Legacy Contacts, or individuals from your contact list who will be able to access all of your data, should you pass on.
The Digital Legacy system of survivorship is infinitely easier and more comforting to have than dealing with court orders and false hopes, as things were before—but, naturally, there are still safeguards in place to ensure that Digital Legacy is only ever activated in the event of a death, and that the system cannot be cheated.
If worse comes to worst, the Legacy Contacts set up on your account would need to present Apple with both a death certificate and an access key to gain access to your photos, documents, purchase history, etc. on your iPhone. Then they would be able to either download a copy of the data from privacy.apple.com, or view it on icloud.com.
Once Apple approves your Legacy Contacts' access to the data, they will be given a time limit during which to view or save it, and after which the account of the deceased will be deleted.
You can set up up to five Legacy Contacts once iOS 15.2 arrives, hopefully in a few weeks, by going to your iPhone's Settings > [profile picture] > Password & Security.