Seniors approaching retirement with a mortgage balance and financial assets are faced with the question of whether they should liquidate assets to pay off the mortgage. With income declining at retirement, the mortgage payment becomes more of a strain. Yet liquidating assets to repay the mortgage reduces the income being generated by the assets, and leaves the borrower with less to liquidate later on when needs may be even greater.
This is not the first time I have written about this topic, but the world has changed, and so have some of my perspectives. I never squarely confronted the core problem, which is that we don’t know how much money we will need to support our lifestyle in retirement because we don’t know how long we will live. The only foolproof solution to that problem is to accumulate more wealth than we can possibly outlive, but most seniors can’t manage that. For all the others, the question of whether to pay off the mortgage looms large.