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Apple update includes feature that allows loved ones access to an account after a user dies

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Posted at 10:31 AM, Dec 17, 2021

This week, Apple released a new software update that includes a digital legacy feature.

Apple's update is similar to legacy features that have already been introduced by social media platforms, including Facebook.

The new program allows users to assign someone responsible for their account when they die. Until now, family members or loved ones had to get a court order to access a person's Apple account after they died.

Liz Weston, a personal finance columnist at NerdWallet, says setting up legacy accounts is as important as estate planning.

"All of us have email accounts. We have photos stored on the web. We have social media accounts," Weston said. "We have all kinds of ways that we have digital assets, and if we don't make a plan for those, those can disappear."

Just like estate planning, Weston says Apple users should have a conversation with the people they choose as a legacy contact. Users may also want to plan on having more than one person hold on to that responsibility.

"You should never do anything in estate planning without talking to the people that you plan to dump this on," Weston said. "If you were getting a power of attorney, for example, so somebody else could make decisions for healthcare and finances, you totally want to talk to them first."

Legacy account planning does differ a bit from estate planning. For instance, Apple's program sends a code to access a deceased person's account. That code should not be included in a will because it could become public.

However, Weston says users may want to store the legacy passcode with estate planning documents or with an attorney.