In their latest iOS update, Apple will implement the iCloud Account Legacy feature which will enable users to nominate a friend or family member to access their Apple accounts and data after death.
This feature has been campaigned for by users for many years now. Previously, Apple required both the grant of probate as well as a court order to access a deceased person’s data stored on their iCloud account. With high levels of security and an intricate legal routine following death, barricaded iCloud accounts made it impractical for users to access the data of those who have passed away. As such, with this new legacy system, nominated individuals will only need to provide a death certificate and will be able to sign into an account with a specific legacy contact Apple ID.
However, despite gaining entry, this access will remain limited. Account legacy logins will only be able to access certain information and will not have the ability to interact with payment information or login details. Additionally, anything that is password protected will require prior knowledge of that users’ passwords, ie. if the phone has a passcode, Apple will not be able to unlock the device without erasing the data on it. Therefore, only basic information stored on the cloud such as photos, videos, and documents, can be downloaded locally.
From a legal perspective, this update may lead to complications in the legal procedure following death. Certain private documents or information may be stored on the cloud which could impact the administration of wills and estates. It will be necessary to review this service on a case-by-case basis and determine its level of impact in private practice.