Records of the settlement of estates are important to genealogists for many reasons, particularly the documentation of relationships.
The settlement of an estate may take place through probate court, or through a simple deed after the surviving spouse dies. It really depends upon the location, the time period, and the complexity of the estate.
If the widow survived, there might not have been an estate settlement, but there might have been an heirship or settlement deed transferring ownership after her death. That might be all the estate settlement that was needed.
Or there could be actual court records, depending upon the size of the estate and the ability of the heirs to get along.