QUESTION TIME

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The Independent Online
Is it a good idea to keep a mortgage going even if I am in a position to pay it off?

If you can pay a mortgage off it is usually a good idea to do so. Tax relief for mortgage interest on loans below pounds 30,000 is now only 15 per cent. It is therefore difficult to invest the money that you have and get a return that exceeds the mortgage interest by a worthwhile margin. This contrasts with the days when home owners could get mortgage interest relief at their highest tax rate. Then it was fairly easy to get a positive cash flow on the difference between the investment return and net mortgage interest.

I used to have a unit trust holding managed by the US group Aetna. However, when I tried to get an up-to-date valuation I could find no trace of the company on the financial pages.

Some of Aetna's funds were merged into a fund held with Thornton fund management. The others had the units transferred into various Thornton funds. As you were not specific about which fund you invested in, we suggest that you contact Thornton directly. When you do make sure that you have the details of your Aetna holdings to hand.

Write to Thornton Unit Managers, 33 Queen Street, London, EC4R 1 AY, or telephone 0171-246-3000.

Question Time is answered by an expert panel from Coopers & Lybrand. Readers should send their questions regarding financial and investment matters to The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. We cannot guarantee to answer all readers' questions.

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