Apple has announced the introduction of a Digital Legacy function that will allow a nominated individual to access someone’s data in the event of their death.

Until now the tech giant has needed a grant of probate and a court order before it approves access to a deceased person’s account. It also advises users to include in their will relevant personal information they store on their devices and in iCloud.

Over the years, users have persistently asked Apple to introduce a formalised way of accessing the contents of a loved one’s account should they die.

Apple said the new Digital Legacy function would allow an administrator to sign in through a “legacy contact Apple ID” and would need an access key to see password-protected data on Apple devices and material stored in iCloud. The accessed data can then be downloaded.

Mike Abbott, vice president of Apple Cloud Services, said: “You’ll now be able to add people to your account as legacy contacts so when you’re gone, they can simply request access and your information can be passed along quickly and easily.”

Under the update, users will need to provide a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and an access key to gain access to the information. Payment information, subscriptions, licensed media and Keychain password data will not be included.

The new Digital Legacy feature was announced during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) this week.