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IP14122    0

Question on escrow.....

My agency asked for a $5,000 travel escrow 5 months ago at the beginning of our journey.  They said that it is used to pay for our surrogate's travel expenses for the match meeting, medical clearance, transfer, etc.  There was no "escrow agreement".  They did not provide an estimate of costs prior to booking any travel and have not supplied a detailed invoice of what's been spent.  I feel like they treat this as an open checkbook.  At this point, 5 months later, I have no idea where this money is - or if it's even in "escrow" if that's a valid statement. 

Once we signed contracts, they asked for a second check to cover all the expenses and payments that are in our contract.  This was handed over to TSEMCI, we signed an agreement and seems a lot more legit. 

Do other agencies operate this way?  Does an escrow agent need to be licensed and a neutral 3rd party?  Can that really be the agency?  It's seems a bit shady to me but wondering if this is a common practice. 

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traci72    202
3 hours ago, IP14122 said:

Question on escrow.....

My agency asked for a $5,000 travel escrow 5 months ago at the beginning of our journey.  They said that it is used to pay for our surrogate's travel expenses for the match meeting, medical clearance, transfer, etc.  There was no "escrow agreement".  They did not provide an estimate of costs prior to booking any travel and have not supplied a detailed invoice of what's been spent. Ok, this pisses me off. Both as a surrogate and as an agency employee. As a program coordinator, sometimes I can't give an estimate ahead of time for the flts, as I have run into issues where the cost dramatically went up, I had to change airlines, instead of an overnight bag for a 1-2 day trip they had a full on suitcase and it's not free, a variety of things. However, I know the cost of the hotel and the car service and those are easy enough to run by IP's if needed. As far as a detailed invoice, it *SHOULD* be common practice to send you an itemized invoice monthly. **OR** at any time you REQUEST one. If not, I would be questioning it too. I feel like they treat this as an open checkbook.  At this point, 5 months later, I have no idea where this money is - or if it's even in "escrow" if that's a valid statement. 

Once we signed contracts, they asked for a second check to cover all the expenses and payments that are in our contract.  This was handed over to TSEMCI, we signed an agreement and seems a lot more legit. 

Do other agencies operate this way?  Does an escrow agent need to be licensed and a neutral 3rd party? To protect everyone's best interest, it should be. There have been agencies that handled their own "escrow" and ran off w/the money. Not common or the norm by any means, but it has happened in the past. Can that really be the agency? It technically can, but it can create a host of issues for both surrogate and IP's.  It's seems a bit shady to me but wondering if this is a common practice. 

I know that as a surrogate w/one agency, my travel funds or incidental reimbursements were paid to me from the agency expense acct, and then those amts were billed to the IP's in a detailed invoice. It wasn't a separate escrow acct for those travel funds. As a program coordinator, I pay for all travel related expenses...flts, transportation, hotel...via our company CC, forward each individual invoice to our finance mgr, who makes a detailed accounting for the IP's and this money is reimbursed to us out of the escrow acct. We have a separate 3rd party escrow company and they do an amazing job. I honestly wish dealing w/all the professionals I have to, were as easy as it is to deal w/this company. 

Ok, so I responded some above, but will put the rest of my response down here. 

 

So, what is typical/common, is to have the full comp amt, amts for things like c-section, multiples, maternity clothes, transfer/meds fee, etc deposited in full into an escrow acct prior to the transfer ever happening, w/an additional amt. I've seen this amt as low as $3,000 and as high as $10,000, which would be to cover OOP expenses (co-pays, prenatals, etc), mileage reimbursement, travel expenses to the surrogate (typically meals, if she had to pay to park her car at the airport, other expense related to but not paid for in advance, of travel/transfer), lost wages and anything not specifically attached to her comp. If those funds drop below 'x' level, then the IP's are required to deposit a sum to bring this fund back up to the contracted amt. At the end of the contract period, after all bills have been paid out of this fund and everything is said and done, the remaining amt is refunded back to the IP's. My personal experience as a surrogate is that my IP's were always required to maintain $5,000 for these purposes, and that if it feel below I think $1-2,000, they had to make deposits until it was back to the $5,000. *Most* of the surrogates w/the agency I work for now have this same stipulation in the same amt, though I think 1 or 2 have had a higher amt. ALL of this money though, is maintained in the same escrow acct and he keeps detailed records of how much is in the accts to cover comp, etc and how much is available for these other things.

 

If they are not providing you w/any accounting of these funds, how much went where and when, then I would have a huge issue w/them. If they are keeping a discretionary acct of this $5,000 in their agency acct, *as long as* they provide a min. of monthly invoices detailing every last penny as well as providing it upon request, I wouldn't have as much of an issue. No matter how they are doing it, if they can't, aren't or aren't willing to provide this information, I would call them out on it and want my money moved immediately.

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beachalice    23

Agreed with all that Traci said above. 

I would bug them, excessively if need be, until an account statement is provided. 

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