We are all dependent on our devices to some degree. Whether we are searching for the cheapest gas, making a quick purchase from Amazon, or mindlessly scrolling through the wide selection of funny animal videos on Facebook, we all spend a great deal of time engrossed in our smartphones. Our phones are our lifelines, and they hold a wealth of information about our everyday lives.
On average, people spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day. Americans 60 years of age and older currently spend about 4 hours and 16 minutes per day with their TVs, computers, tablets, and other devices. This includes the iPhones and Androids that receive family photos, store documents, and harbor passwords, fingerprints, and face IDs for access to a variety of online sites.
When we think about getting our affairs in order, the big accounts naturally come to mind – real estate, investment and bank accounts, and retirement funds. But what about the technology that consumes us for hours every day? Don’t forget to decide who gets access to your smartphone and social media accounts or lose those digital assets forever.
3 Accounts You Don’t Want to Forget
- iPhone or Android
- Social Media
- Medical ID
1. Take two minutes and create a Legacy Contact for your iPhone.
In a matter of minutes, you can create a passcode for the individual(s) you designate to access your iPhone after you die. From starting our keyless entry cars to unlocking the front door of our homes, many of us have made the modern smartphone the single most important key in our lives. Without a Legacy Contact, there will be barriers to accessing everything from your property to your email, passwords, and photos.
How to Add a Legacy Contact on Your iPhone
- Go to Settings, then tap your name.
- Tap Sign-In & Security, then tap Legacy Contact
- Tap Add Legacy Contact. You might be asked to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device passcode.
This feature does not allow access right away to your iPhone and its content. Apple will create a passcode for you to send to your Legacy Contact. They will have to provide this passcode along with additional documentation upon your death to get access.
Even if you have designated a personal representative in your will, that person will not be given access to your digital assets without a court order. Avoid the hassle of restricted access to important information and precious family photos by establishing your Legacy Contacts now. And, if you change your mind about who should have access, you simply remove the person from your Legacy Contact list and their passcode will be deactivated.
Don’t have an iPhone? Click this link to learn how other brands handle legacy contacts.
2. Let your Facebook Legacy Contact change your status to “In Memorium.”
If you have been diligent in keeping your Facebook followers informed about your current status, be sure to assign a Legacy Contact to keep everyone updated about your Final Status. Don’t worry – your Legacy Contact won’t have access to slide into anyone’s DMs until they provide the proper paperwork (including your death certificate) to Facebook. Your account can be labeled “Memorialized” and your Legacy Contact can download your photos and profile information.
How to Set Up a Legacy Contact on Facebook
- Go to Profile Settings
- Accounts Center
- Personal Details
- Account Ownership and Control
If you don’t want to choose a Legacy Contact and you would rather your Facebook account be deactivated, you can choose that, too. Other social media accounts, such as X (formerly known as Twitter), only offer the option to deactivate.
Want to remove or memorialize an Instagram account? Click this link for instructions.
3. The Medical ID is an easy phone setting that can help you now.
The Medical ID on your iPhone allows first responders to access your critical medical information without needing your passcode. It provides data including your name, age, medical conditions, blood type, and emergency contacts with the tap of a screen. This is a simple way to ensure that your information is accessible at a time when it is needed most.
How to Set Up a Medical ID on an iPhone
- Open your Health app and tap the Summary tab
- Tap Profile picture in the upper-right corner
- Tap Medical ID
- Tap Edit in the upper-right corner
- Enter your health data
- Tap Done
Your Medical ID can be shared with emergency services during an emergency call, saving valuable time. When you use the Emergency SOS to call for help, iPhone sends a message to the contacts you listed in your Medical ID, saying that you’ve called emergency services and provides your current location.
Our obsession with devices isn’t all bad. Our phones keep us connected to family, store our memories in pictures, and summon emergency services with the tap of a screen. As we set up our aging plans and provide peace of mind to family and friends with advance directives, we can take action now to preserve our digital assets and give access to information that can help us now and in the future.
Don’t have an iPhone? There are free apps you can download to create a medical ID on other phone types.
Protect Your Family, Future, and Legacy
We all start each day with the intention of seeing it through to the end. While none of us anticipate emergencies, it is best to prepare for them as best we can. Whether you are preparing for end-of-life through estate planning or deciding how to manage your digital assets, an Elder Law Attorney is uniquely qualified to help.
Schedule a consultation with an Elder Law Attorney and create a pathway to peace of mind for your family. With proactive planning, you can protect your assets and direct who benefits from your legacy. You have worked hard to provide a good life for yourself and your family – let your Elder Law Attorney prepare an estate plan that works for you.
Protecting assets and preparing plans for a rich quality of life are two reasons Elder Law Attorneys are a Resource We Love. Learn more about how they create long-term plans to obtain the best care for their clients in the Legal Section of our Blog.