An individual qualifies for widow's allowance when a spouse dies and the surviving spouse needs financial support to pay for immediate needs, explains Investopedia. The purpose of a widows allowance is to protect the widow of the deceased against financial hardship while executors administer the estate.
Individual state statutes and probate courts govern the laws that regulate a widows allowance, notes Investopedia. The standard of living and size of the estate while the decedent was alive generally dictate the amount of the allowance. Allowances are generally larger if the decedent was wealthy and the estate was large, while the allowance tends to be smaller for more modest situations.