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The Importance of Setting Up a Digital Legacy Contact

By Jon Cohen:

Recently, I received a message from an old friend seeking assistance. Tragically, her beloved mother had passed away, and now she wanted to gain access to her mom’s digital devices, namely the iPhone and iPad. These devices were protected by a passcode, but she only remembered two out of the four numbers. Regrettably, I couldn't offer her a straightforward solution. This kind of situation is becoming increasingly common nowadays, not just when a parent passes away but also in cases involving siblings, spouses, or children. In this article, we'll delve into the sensitive subject of digital legacy access for both hardware and social media.

In today's digital age, it has become increasingly vital to plan for the fate of your online accounts after your passing. A digital legacy contact is a designated person who gains access to your online accounts once you’re no longer here. This invaluable feature ensures that your loved ones can access and cherish your photos, videos, music, and other precious memories even after you’re gone.

The benefits of setting up a digital legacy contact are numerous and far-reaching. Firstly, it saves your loved ones from the cumbersome task of proving their identity to various tech companies. This process can be lengthy and complicated, especially if you have multiple accounts across different platforms.

Secondly, a digital legacy contact plays a crucial role in preserving your cherished memories. With the vast amount of photos and videos stored online, your legacy contact can efficiently organize and share them with your family and friends, ensuring your memories stay alive in their hearts.

Thirdly, your cloud storage might contain sensitive or confidential information, such as financial documents or personal records. By appointing a trustworthy legacy contact, you can ensure responsible handling of such materials or their proper deletion, if necessary. Moreover, this helps prevent account inactivity, reducing the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts after your passing.

Lastly, a digital legacy contact facilitates communication with your acquaintances. After you’re no longer around, your friends and family may want to inform others about your situation or access your contacts. A legacy contact can take charge of managing email responses and communication, providing essential information as needed.

Various platforms, including Apple, Google, and Facebook, offer the option to set up a digital legacy contact. Each platform has its specific requirements, so it's essential to follow the instructions provided for the platform you use.

Setting up a digital legacy contact is a generally straightforward process but will differ slightly depending on which platform you use. You will need to provide the name and contact information of your legacy contact, and that legacy contact will need to confirm that they accept the role.

Here are some of the specific benefits of setting up a digital legacy contact for each of the major platforms:

  • Apple: A legacy contact can help unlock your iCloud devices, access your Apple ID, and manage your subscriptions (computers, phone, and tablet).

  • Google: A legacy contact can help access your Gmail account, manage your Google Photos, and make post-mortem decisions for your YouTube channel (computers, phone, and tablet).

  • Facebook: A legacy contact can help create a memorial post, respond to friend requests, and update your profile picture and cover photo.

Additional benefits of setting up a digital legacy contact include:

  • Prevention of hacking or misuse: Unauthorized access to your accounts can be prevented by a digital legacy contact, safeguarding your digital assets from potential harm.

  • Proper closure of online accounts: Without a legacy contact, your online accounts might not be appropriately closed, leading to potential issues for your loved ones, such as unauthorized charges on your credit cards.

  • Preservation of digital legacy: Your digital legacy encompasses all your online content, from photos and videos to music and social media posts. A digital legacy contact ensures that this legacy is preserved and shared responsibly.

A digital legacy contact is a vital step in safeguarding your digital assets and preserving your memories for your loved ones. I strongly encourage you to set up a digital legacy contact as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition of your online presence after you are gone. By doing so, you can leave a lasting and meaningful legacy for those you care about.


Jon Cohen’s contributions can be found on radio, TV, and print media. Jon makes “geek speak” understandable for the masses and has been a voice in the tech community for over 20 years. A former “Geek Squad” member as well as an “Apple Genius,” he offers a fresh perspective on technology, photography, and social media. Twitter: @cohenHD

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