How Apple and Facebook Bridge the Gap in Digital Legacy Planning

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Have you ever thought about what happens to the pictures and information stored on your smartphone and posted on social media accounts after you die? In some cases, everything dies with you. But recently, Apple and Facebook have stepped up to ensure your data – and memories – will not be lost. Welcome to digital legacy planning.

What is a Digital Legacy?

Most online accounts are considered licensed or contracted by the company providing them, and, therefore, you do not own them and cannot bequeath them in your Will or other estate plan. This can become a problem of when you die: what should be done with the content in these accounts? Digital legacy is the solution. 

According to a survey by the Digital Legacy Association, roughly 12% of those surveyed were extremely familiar with a digital legacy, while just over 36% had some knowledge about it, and about 22% had never heard of it.

Digital legacy is the online content you created through the years that is available to someone upon your passing. These are your videos, pictures, email, digital files, profiles, blogs, and posts. Typically, only you can access these through your accounts. Now, you can choose a “digital legacy contact” who can access your information following your passing.

Apple's Digital Legacy Program

Apple just announced its new Digital Legacy Program. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device and have an Apple user account, you can appoint a legacy contact who can access your data when you die. You must be 18 or older to appoint a legacy contact.

This is how it works: 

  • Upon your passing, your legacy contact signs in with a “legacy contact Apple ID” and can access password-protected info with an access key. The legacy contact also must have your death certificate to be granted access. 
  • The legacy contact can view your information such as emails and pictures. 
  • The appointee has access to your iCloud account where stored data can be downloaded. 
  • Access is not allowed to subscriptions and stored payment information such as credit cards on Keychain. 

There is a time limit when data can be accessed. If the information is not obtained by a set date, the account and its stored data will be permanently deleted. At that point, everything is lost and cannot be retrieved. 

According to Apple, this program will be available starting this fall when the company’s iOS 15 launches.

Until now, Apple’s policy was that a user’s right to their content terminates upon death.

Facebook's Memorialized Accounts

Everyone wants to be remembered after they pass. In addition to the memories, there are photographs and stories that can be shared. Facebook now provides that option to users.

Facebook’s Memorialized Accounts allow family and friends to share memories of a deceased loved one. It’s the social media company’s policy to memorialize an account for someone who has passed if requested by a family member or close friend.

According to Facebook, these are the features:

  1. The word “Remembering” will be shown next to the person’s name on their profile.
  2. Depending on the privacy settings of the account, friends can share memories on the memorialized “Timeline.”
  3. Content the person shared – photos, posts – stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared to.
  4. Memorialized profiles do not appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, ads, or birthday reminders.
  5. No one can log into a memorialized account.
  6. Memorialized accounts that don’t have a legacy contact cannot be changed.
  7. Pages with a sole admin whose account was memorialized will be removed from Facebook if a valid request is received.

Facebook will not provide login info for someone’s account to anyone but the user. Memorializing an account helps keep it secure by preventing anyone from logging into it after the person has passed away.

Like Apple, Facebook users can also appoint legacy contacts. The contact is authorized to write a pinned post for your profile, such as sharing a final message on your behalf, or providing information about a memorial service. Also, the appointee can request the removal of your account and download a copy of shared posts if the feature is activated.

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Gentreo Provides for Digital Legacy Planning

Don’t let your online pictures, posts, and videos be lost. Select a digital legacy contact so your friends and loved ones can share lasting memories.

When you create your online Will with Gentreo, you grant your chosen Personal Representative ( aka Executor) the authority to manage all your digital assets. Also, you have the option when creating your Power of Attorney on Gentreo to grant your agent ( aka Attorney in Fact) authority to manage your digital assets and accounts while you are alive.


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