Question pertains to United States: California. I am including as much information as may be pertinent.
My mother died a few weeks ago. I was estranged from her as my parents divorced when I was a child and grew up with my father.
Because of the estrangement I knew nothing of her finances, and only by going through paperwork to clean out her apartment did I learn any financial information. Because she rented an apartment there is no house to be considered. Her vehicle was stolen a few months before her death so no assets there. To the best of my knowledge/research she had no land ownership. She did have an IRA from her employer before she was let-go/fired/no-longer-employed. I am listed on the IRA account as beneficiary. Outside of the IRA there is, that I know of, 1 account with her name on it.
She left no written will or living trust, that I know of, and no Power of Attorney (PoA) paperwork. As living descendant (I'm assuming I become defacto estate executor) I called all financial institutions and CC numbers I could find and informed each of them that she is dead. A few weeks have passed since calling and so far one Credit Card (CC) company has called about estate payment. As CC are unsecured debts does the balance, ~$1,000 for this card, die with her?
PS: Anything I ought to be aware of and know? Never done this before and prefer to know legal rights/requirements.