Q&A: What to do with sudden savings

Dear Liz: A few months ago we took out a jumbo loan on our residence, using the excess to pay off the mortgage on an investment property. The interest savings is substantial and our monthly payment is much less than the combined two payments we had before. We never had any problem making the two payments. Is it a good idea to put the monthly savings toward the principal? Our daughter will inherit the residence and all our income-producing properties. She has a sporadic employment history and I’m concerned she would not qualify to assume the jumbo loan if she wants to keep the residence.

Answer: Most people have better uses for their money than paying down a low-rate, potentially tax deductible debt. Your case may be one of the exceptions, or it may not.

The first step may be to ask whether she’s planning to keep the home. If she isn’t, then you needn’t worry about the loan — it will be paid off when she sells the property.

If she is planning to keep it, she could sell one or more of the other properties to pay off the loan. (These sales typically wouldn’t generate much if any taxable gains, since the properties get new fair market values when she inherits them.)

If you want to avoid her having to sell anything, then making extra principal payments can be a good plan as long as you don’t have any other debt and have an adequate emergency fund. You may want to consider a backup plan in case you die before the loan is paid off, such as a term life insurance policy (assuming you can qualify).

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