The Importance of Legacy Contacts

Apple, Android and Google have recently added functionality to enable users to add legacy contacts to their accounts. In doing so, you will want to consider the following:

  • Only add someone you trust and who you’d want to be in charge of your digital legacy.
  • Revisit these settings every couple of years in case there have been changes in your personal life, like a death, divorce or friendship that is no longer as close as it was.
  • Look at what, exactly, you will be granting them access to as some kinds of data might be more revealing than you’re comfortable with such as emails or location history.
  • Consider a separate backup plan like sharing your passwords or access to a password manager, which can help them with accounts that don’t include legacy options or getting to data that isn’t designed to be passed on, like DRM (digital rights management) protected music and movies.
  • Inform the person you’re adding that they’re the contact (they’ll often get an automated email), and if you have a will, consider including any legacy-contact documentation.
  • A legacy contact will usually need a digital key and a copy of your death certificate to access your digital accounts.

Very often, when creating an estate plan you will designate a trustee (trust) personal representative (will) and attorney-in-fact (powers of attorney) who are individuals to whom you entrust your finances and health care. It is a good idea to name one or more of those individuals as your legacy contact to have access to the data in your digital accounts after your death.

There are many tutorials on the Internet explaining how to establish legacy contacts, so that will not be discussed here. The important thing to remember is that if no one has access to your digital accounts after your death, the consequences can include:

  • Loss of cryptocurrency accounts and amounts;
  • Social medial platforms that continue to exist (and be hacked) after your death;
  • Loss of passwords and account numbers to name just a few.

Just as technology continues to reshape how legal documents are created and witnessed, so too, has it changed the way in which assets are held. Don’t be left behind. Create your legacy contacts now before they are needed. You can always change them if you decide to do so later but once you are gone, it’s too late.