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.
    • Example:
      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

Path Markers