A widow may only collect her Ketubah, both the primary portion and any additions, with an oath [that she has not yet been paid]. Properties that she brought into the marriage (whether dowry or not), or properties that were specified in the Ketubah, in the event that the particular items that she brought into the marriage are still extant or if we know what items were purchased with the proceeds from those items, may be collected without an oath. If the dowry properties are no longer extant and we cannot identify items that were purchased with the proceeds from them, and she now seeks reimbursement from his estate [for such properties] she may only collect with an oath. The same applies if [her late husband] designated movable properties in the Ketubah - these are subject to the same determinations as the dowry properties. If he designated land for her in the Ketubah, even if he only delineated one of its boundaries, she may collect it without an oath. If she died before taking the oath, her heirs do not inherit her Ketubah, for [the general rule is that] a person does not bequeath money that can only be collected with an oath. Rem"a: See the details of this rule in (Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 108). Some authorities say that though her heirs do not inherit her Ketubah, this is only true is she did not seize it. If she did seize it, the heirs do inherit it because the properties are possessed. Other authorities dispute this. See (Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 108). If the heirs say, "she took an oath," they must provide proof. If they paid part of her Ketubah and produced a contractual debt on the remainder, her heirs inherit this debt even though she took no oath. A widow that became mute and hinted before her death that she had not collected anything, this is sufficient to be considered an oath. Rem"a: If a woman became mute and was subsequently widowed, her heirs may not collect her Ketubah because she is unable to take the oath. See (Shulchan Arukh, Even HaEzer 105:3). If however, she was divorced and then died, her heirs may take the oath, "that we were not commanded [*verify*]." They may even collect form his heirs, if he died after her.
What oath does the widow swear? That the husband did not allot [anything] for her, and that she did not allot anything for herself from his possessions. And there is one that says, that she needs to swear that she did not forgive her marriage document and that she did not sell [it] to him: gloss: And if she swore plainly: that I did not benefit from my marriage document, it is sufficient (the Ran, ch. ha-sholeah). And they had a custom also to make her swear that she did not waste anything without the permission of the husband, and if her husband is mentally incapable, they say plainly: that she did not waste more than what is appropriate (Ma"Hariq Root 19):
If the widow wants to collect her ketuba, but does not want to swear until her children grow up, for maybe they will exempt her from the oath, we do not listen to her.
A widow who says: My husband gave me a gift in lieu of my collecting my marriage contract payment, if she is still in possession of the gift and she could have claimed she had nothing from her husband, she is believed since she could have easily lied.
A widow her sold or gave [property secured by her ketubah payment]: [her transaction] stands if she swore at the end, and [the amount she owes] is deleted from her ketubah payment. And these words apply in [the case of] movable property; but in real property even if she did swear at the end her sale or gift does not stand, unless a court approved it, even a lay-people's court. And some say that the court must collect it for her. Note: And some say that even in movable property [cases] her sale or gift is void, despite her having sworn at the end, because she did not swear at the beginning. And some say that the judge should decide according to his discretion (Mordochai, chapter "One who writes"), because where the judge concludes that she has not been seized by troubles, such as [her husband's] having died suddenly or such, it may be right to judge that her sale or gift stand (Rosh, rule 85). And similarly if the receiver or buyer are well-established and it seems right to him to such this way. And all of this is when the woman retracted [her agreement to the transaction] after she swore, but if she has not retracted, her sale and gift stand ab initio (Maharik, root 18); and therefore a widow who did not swear against her ketubah, and marries bringing to her new marriage much wealth from her first husband, should still swear. And if she dies, her second husband inherits from her and is enriched by what she held (notes of the Mordochai on Ketubot). And see above paragraph 101.
A widow who forgave the debt of her [late] husband's debtor, it is not valid.
At times, even a divorcee is required to swear [in order to collect her ketuba], even when the husband makes no claim, as when she renders the ketuba defective. For example, if her ketuba was for 1000 [zuz] and he said to her, "You already received your ketuba," and she says, "I received only 1 maneh (=100 zuz)," even if she has witnesses [who testify] how much she received, and even if she specified the exact amount received, even if only 1/2 perutah, she should not be paid [the remainder] except with an oath.
Similarly, if one witness testified that the ketuba had been paid [she may not collect except with an oath].
Similarly, if she is collecting [her lien] from (lit. preying on) purchasers [she needs to take an oath denying prior payment of the ketuba]. Rama: Similarly if he had two wives and divorced one, she needs to swear to the second wife (Beit Yosef in the name of Magid Mishne), as will be explained infra se'if 16.
And she can claim it not in front of him. This is if he is far away, but if he is nearby, so that the messenger can go and return within thirty days, he informs him, and if he [the husband] does not come, they make her swear and she can take it. And the woman pays the wages of the messenger and adds onto the ketubah.
All of these oaths, even though they are of Rabbinic origin, are undertaken while holding a [sacred] object. If she went ahead and grabbed the money but does not want to swear, we do not remove the money from her hands, nor do we reverse the oath (to have the husband swear that he had already paid, and then extract the money from her).
When she wants to swear [and collect her ketuba], if it is suspected that she may swear falsely, her litigant swears [that the ketuba was paid] and is absolved of paying. If he is also suspected, "there is neither oath nor payment".
When a lone witness testifies that the ketuba has been paid, the husband can scheme to force her into a Biblical oath. How? he pays off her ketuba a second time in front of the lone witness and another witness with him, and then claims the original payment, saying, "I gave it to you as a loan." But he has to notify the lone witness of his intentions [in advance].
If she produced her ketuba document, with an amount of 1000 zuz [written in the document], he says, "It was totally paid off," and she says, "I was not paid anything, but you only owe me 500 [zuz] because there was a trust (amana - an amana documents a loan that never actually took place, and one party trusts the other not to use it for collection) between you and me, she may collect [500 zuz] without an oath. But if she says, "this ketuba document contains only 500 [zuz]," then she may not collect anything with this ketuba in which it is written 1000 [zuz]. Rama: But the husband must take a "heset" oath (Rabbinical oath), and he is absolved from paying (Rambam chapter 16, and written likewise in Beit Yosef).
She says, "I married as a virgin and my ketubah was 200 [zuz]" and the husband or the inheritors say, "No, you were a widow." If the ketubah was lost or they were in a place where they do not write a ketubah, if there were witnesses that they made [the wedding] for her as is customary to do for virgins, her ketubah is 200, even if one of the witnesses was a youth when he saw [the wedding] and is now grown, [so long as he has] another with him, it [the testimony] is good. If there were no witnesses, she only takes one maneh [a coin = 100 zuz] and the husband needs to take an oath. Some say a Torah level oath and some write a heset oath [a lesser severity, Rabbinic level oath]. Rem"a: And some say in a place where they do not write ketubot, [he takes a] heset oath. In a place where they do write [ketubot], but it was lost, [he takes a] Torah level oath, since anyone is able to pay and say, "I paid it." Therefore he admitted to part of it (Magid Mishneh Ch. 16). See later (100:6).
If a man married four woman (who were all married in separate instances) and then dies, and the women come to collect their Ketubah, the first must swear to the second that she possesses none of the husbands assets, and the second in turn swears to the third, and the third to the fourth. The fourth then swears to the orphans; even if they are adults, [the wives] cannot be compensated from them without an oath.
If all the ketubot [of the 4 wives above] were signed on the same day, if in a place where they also write the time, the earlier [ketubot] take precedence [in collection - because their lien is earlier]. If they do not write the time, then each lien takes effect simultaneously.
One who married four women -- this one's ketubah [specifying a payment of] 100, this one's 200, this one's 300, and this one's 400 -- and all of then were signed the same day and then he died, and he did not have sufficient [assets in his estate to pay for] all the ketubah payments, how do they divide [the available assets]? They see whether, if the money is divided by the number of women, whether the result would equal the ketubah payment of the one owed the least. If it is less, they divide equally. And if the money is more than that, they divide it such that the payment to the least is equal to her ketubah level, and then again they divide the remainder among the remaining [wives] in the same manner.
When the court or the heirs cause the widow to swear when she comes to collect her ketuba, the oath may only be administered outside the court. [Why?] Because the courts used to avoid administering oaths for fear that she would not be exact (and would swear falsely - by a small amount), and an oath outside of court is not so stringent, for it takes place without the name of G_d, and without holding a sacred object, and only with a curse [should she swear falsely]. If the orphans wish her to take a vow (of abstinence - instead of an oath; vow = "neder"], she vows what they request, and they administer the vow in court and she collects her ketuba monies. The vow must forswear something that results in personal (fleshly) hardship, and must be lifelong. A vow is valid only if she has not yet remarried, but if she has already remarried, she may not collect with a vow, for her [second] husband may invalidate the vow.
A divorcee who presents for oath [to collect her ketuba], we administer the oath in court.
There is one opinion that nowadays we require a widow to take an oath in court, since on the matter regarding which we regularly require an oath from her, that we decree - under penalty of excommunication and a biblical oath - that she acknowledge what she has received of her dower, the punishment is not as great as (an oath). For at the moment she takes the oath, her oath becomes false. Rem"a: She must swear before three who are fit [to be judges]; if she swore before three who are relatives, she must take another oath (Beit Yosef, citing Responsa Rashba and Responsa Maharam at the end of Hafla'ah). She should preferably take the oath in the presence of the orphans, but if she swore away from their presence, or if the orphans do not want to be present for the oath, we accept her oath outside their presence (Rashba ibid.). If a widow swears about her dower, the orphans may later demand, under threat of excommunication, information from anyone who knows whether the widow pledged any of their property (Rivash no. 325).