Q: I took care of an elderly parent who died recently. I lived in the home with this parent and currently do not own a home.

The house is worth approximately $225,000, and there is a mortgage of about $142,000. I’ve continued to make the payments on the mortgage.

I actually can qualify for my own mortgage. In addition to my salary, I inherited approximately $55,000 in cash and an IRA worth $125,000. My only debt is the $8,000 I owe on my car.

Do you recommend paying off my car and paying down the mortgage so that I will only have to take out a loan for about $100,000? I would like a 15 year fixed-rate mortgage.

A: My condolences on the loss of your parent. It’s tough enough to lose a parent, but particularly when you were the caregiver.

You have plenty of options, but you weren’t specific on what your financial goals are other than you’re looking for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

If you’re looking to improve your monthly cash flow situation, you can take the cash and pay off your $8,000 car debt. Then, start shopping around for a 15-year mortgage. You’ll probably pay somewhere in the low 6 percent range for one right now. If you can refinance the loan for $100,000 for 15 years at 6.25 percent, your monthly payment will be $857.42 per month.

Add property taxes and your homeowner’s insurance to that and you’ll get a sense of what your monthly and annual costs will be for the home.

Should you refinance this mortgage? Probably. Unless the loan interest rate is significantly below the market. You should also talk to an attorney to have the title of the home transferred into your name.

June 2, 2006.