Widows Well - The First Step

Within the First Month

Gather all documents and keep in a binder for easy access.


  • Will or Trust Documents

  • Husband’s Birth Certificate

  • Marriage License

  • Husband’s Death Certificate from funeral home or county of residence

  • Husband and Widow’s Social Security numbers, for benefits (ssa.gov)

  • Retirement accounts from husband’s employer

  • Bank and brokerage statements

  • Insurance policies-life, home, auto, disability, long-term care, mortgage insurance. If no Life Insurance Policy found

  • check: The American Council of Life Insurance gives hints on how to check for policies (acli.com)

  • Veteran’s Administration documentation– Department of Veteran’s Affairs (va.gov)

People To Contact

  • Attorney –  should be the first one you contact for legal advice on estate plan

  • Financial planner/accountant –  for personal income tax return and estate tax return, if needed

  • Insurance agent –  for life insurance proceeds

  • Husband’s employer and past employer –  for possible survivor’s benefits

  • County of residence –  for information regarding lodging the will

Financial Housekeeping

  • Contact applicable agencies to terminate husband’s disability, social security, or veteran’s benefits, if any

  • Set up a temporary budget to keep track of income and expenses

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report

Filing System

  • Set up a filing system to keep track of all paperwork.

  • Consider using colored file folders to keep records together.


    • Accounting tax related (Red)

    • Banking statements (Blue)

    • Financial Investments statements (Green)

    • Government social security, VA benefits (Orange)

    • Insurance life, home, auto (White)

    • Legal estate documents (Black)

    • Bills (Grey)

    • Medical information (Yellow)

  • Keep a list of tasks completed, in process, and yet to do

Don’t make major financial decisions the first year!

Helpful Hint

Keep a notebook near the phone to keep track of calls about the estate.


Click to download a PDF of the “Documents Needed” Form.

Next Path Marker:

Along the Way

Within the first six months