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Navigating Gestational Surrogate Pay and the Role of an Escrow Account

Parenthood is a dream come true for many, but the path to it is rarely a smooth, straight line. For those facing fertility issues, health concerns, or even choosing to become a parent much later in life, gestational surrogacy can be a ray of hope and possibility. The cost to embark on this journey is top of mind for those choosing to build their families with a surrogate. 

For those giving the gift of parenthood by serving as a surrogate, “How will I receive compensation?” is always a question at the top of their list, and it is an important one. At its core, gestational surrogacy is a legal agreement and a huge financial and emotional investment. That’s why it’s essential to use a professional third-party escrow service (like SeedTrust) to safeguard the financial interests of both the surrogate and intended parents.

Here, we’ll share the importance of escrow accounts in gestational surrogacy compensation, how they work, and why they are essential for a smooth and secure surrogacy journey.

Understanding Surrogate Compensation Components 

Before we dive into the nuances of escrow accounts, let’s review the fundamentals of gestational surrogacy compensation. Surrogate compensation typically covers a range of expenses, but here are the most common: 

  • Base Compensation: This is the fixed amount paid to the surrogate for carrying the pregnancy to term. The amount can vary based on location, prior surrogacy experience, and the surrogacy agency they partner with.
  • Medical Expenses: Surrogates are covered for prenatal care, medical procedures, and other healthcare-related costs. This ensures the surrogate receives proper medical attention throughout her pregnancy and is paid for by the Intended Parents.
  • Additional Expenses are reimbursements for things like maternity clothes, childcare if the surrogate is placed on bed rest, lost wages during appointments, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise during the pregnancy.
  • Bonus/Incentive: Things like pumping breast milk, carrying multiples, etc

Role of Escrow Accounts in Surrogate Comp

What is a Surrogacy Escrow Account? 

A Gestational Surrogacy Escrow Account is an account held and managed by a neutral third-party service (typically an escrow agency or attorney) where surrogacy compensation funds are directed from intended parents to surrogates. The account’s primary purpose is to safeguard everyone’s financial interests throughout the surrogacy journey. 

The Benefits of Surrogacy Escrow Accounts

Transparency

These accounts provide transparency in financial transactions. All funds flow through the account, and disbursements are made only when specific milestones or contractual obligations are met. This transparency ensures that intended parents and surrogates are aware of and comfortable with the financial aspects of the surrogacy agreement. 

Peace of Mind

Surrogates gain peace of mind knowing their compensation is secure and will be disbursed promptly, fairly, and consistently with the obligations set forth in the gestational carrier agreement. This peace of mind allows surrogates to focus on their health and well-being during the pregnancy without worrying about delays or disputes. 

Control for Intended Parents

Intended parents are making a huge investment and can rest assured that the funds they’ve allocated for the surrogacy process will be used appropriately and only for the agreed-upon purposes.  

Legal Compliance

While Hawaii doesn’t have specific laws or statutes regarding how gestational surrogacy compensation is held, an escrow account helps ensure that payments are made per the contract and greatly reduces the risk of legal issues. Escrow accounts maintain a detailed record of all financial transactions related to surrogacy. The documentation can be invaluable in the event of an audit and provide a clear trail of payments made and received.

Conflict Resolution

In the rare event of a dispute or unexpected circumstance, an escrow account can serve as a neutral platform for resolving financial disagreements. Funds can be held, disbursed, or returned as needed once a resolution has been reached.

Finding the Right Escrow Service Provider

Many surrogacy agencies have preferred surrogacy escrow providers, taking the guesswork out of choosing one and greatly reducing the risk of choosing one that may not live up to expectations. Here’s a list of some things to look for when finding the right escrow service provider: 

  • Legitimacy & Accreditation: Are they registered with the appropriate authorities? Do they possess a solid reputation? Be sure to check online reviews to gauge their credibility.
  • Expertise in Surrogacy: Not all escrow providers specialize in surrogacy. Choosing one with extensive experience navigating the intricacies and nuance of gestational surrogacy is invaluable. Again, we love SeedTrust. They’re experts in the field and have a solid reputation. Plus, they’re the only escrow service provider we partner with! 
  • Transparent Fee Structure: Make sure to understand the fee structure to avoid unexpected costs.  Some escrow providers have a flat fee that covers unlimited transactions during your journey.  Other providers charge a fee per transaction and processing fees to send disbursements by ACH or wire.  Look for a provider with transparent pricing to know exactly what to expect regarding fees (if any) and when they are due. This is especially important for intended parents in order to budget effectively. 
  • Technology: In the digital age, an escrow provider must have technology that is easy to navigate and security that protects financial data with encryption and secure storage systems. Transactions should be easy to find, and deposits should be easy to make. 
  • Accessibility & Communication: The surrogacy escrow service provider must be responsive and excellent communicators. It’s easy to do this when trying to win business, but do they provide a dedicated representative for your case? Do they make it easy to understand how and when to make deposits?

Managing Surrogacy Compensation Through Escrow

Once the right escrow provider has been chosen, managing compensation throughout the surrogacy journey should be extremely efficient and streamlined. Unlike other surrogacy agencies that “set it and forget it,” Hawaii Surrogacy Center takes a very hands-on approach when dealing with the financial elements of a surrogacy journey.

  • Our case managers gather and verify all supporting documentation for disbursement requests.  Those requests are uploaded into SeedTrust’s secure portal for review and approval by dedicated escrow agents that support Hawaii Surrogacy Center clients.  
  • Case managers set up recurrent expenses such as insurance premiums to make payments directly to the insurer from escrow.  This reduces the risk of missed payments and policy cancellations.  
  • Larger bills, such as hospitalization and delivery, are reviewed carefully before submission for payment.  Often, case managers will identify costly insurance errors and will have corrections made before any payment is issued through escrow.  Once payment is made, it goes directly to the provider, removing the need for a surrogate to manage billing and letting her focus on recovery.
  • The SeedTrust Escrow system is designed to notify Intended Parents by email 30+ days before their balance approaches the minimum amount. Hawaii Surrogacy Center case managers also watch minimum balances to ensure that our clients have plenty of time to transfer additional funds. 

Conclusion

Escrow accounts are an indispensable part of the surrogacy journey, ensuring fairness, transparency, and financial security for both surrogates and intended parents. They play a vital role in managing and safeguarding the funds associated with surrogacy compensation and help to create a more harmonious surrogacy experience for everyone. 

If you’re considering surrogacy as a means to build your family or you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate yourself, make sure to work with a reputable agency (like ours) that understands the importance of escrow accounts in surrogacy compensation. At the Hawaii Surrogacy Center, we partner with SeedTrust, the best Surrogacy Escrow Services Provider you’ll find, and our white-glove approach to helping you navigate and manage the account is what sets our agency apart from the rest. 

Connect with us today if you’d like to learn more about surrogacy compensation or anything else gestational surrogacy-related. We’d love to walk beside you on your journey! 

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