If a retired spouse passes away, and the home mortgage is a VA one under that person’s benefits, can the surviving spouse do anything with that mortgage? The deceased gets notices to refinance at a better rate; can the spouse? – Marilyn


I get offers in the mail on a regular basis to refinance my Veterans Affairs loan, too. The thing is, I believe most of those are not affiliated with the government at all. Be sure to read the fine print, ask a lot of questions, and if you choose to proceed, do so with caution.

A surviving spouse who has not remarried may be eligible for a VA loan if the servicemember died in service or from a service-connected disability. Based on the information you presented, the spouse may or may not be eligible to use a VA loan for a refinance. However, keep in mind that the spouse is not limited to using a VA loan for a refinance. A survivor with equity in the home and good credit may be eligible to refinance with a conventional loan.

When it comes to refinancing, I always caution folks to keep an eye on costs, look to save at least 1 percent on the interest rate, honestly assess how long you’ll be in the home (a good rule of thumb is at least three years), and then crunch the numbers to see if there really are potential savings. Smart decisions are crucial, especially during tough economic times like these.