Surrogate’s Electronic Document Imaging System


System Overview


The Surrogate Electronic Document Imaging System has been developed to provide this public service department with an efficient, automated process for the recording, retrieval, and archiving of documents that are filed with the Surrogate’s Office. Under its role in serving the public, the Surrogate performs a number of functions as the appointee to represent the interests of those who are unable to represent themselves. These services include probating Wills, appointing Administrators, appointing Guardians for minors, handling applications for Adult Incapacitated Persons, Conservatorships, Adoptions, and most other matters involving estates and the assets of minors. As a part of these services, the Surrogate’s Office must record all documents related to these cases and provide access to documents as required by State statute.


The Surrogate Electronic Document Imaging System developed by Specialty Systems, Inc. provides the Surrogate’s Office with the ability to scan case documents, record index information relevant to the documents, and store the index data and documents electronically in a centralized database. This centralized database can then be used for rapid retrieval of documents by performing intelligent searches on the data. The functionality significantly reduces the time required to find desired documents. The index data recorded with the initial document scanning also allows the public to find documents without having to know a specific case #. In addition, the electronic document imaging system significantly reduces the department’s physical storage space requirements.


System Features


Implementing the Surrogate Electronic Document Imaging System provides greater operational efficiencies and improved services for the Surrogate’s office:

  • Documents can be scanned more quickly than microfiche or microfilm production processes.
  • The number of times hardcopy document need to be ‘handled’ by office staff is reduced.
  • Office staff can access desired documents more quickly.
  • Self-service is promoted as the general public, attorneys, title searchers and others can search for and locate documents without the assistance of the Surrogate’s office staff.
  • Physical storage space requirements are reduced


The Surrogate Electronic Document Imaging System is comprised of the following functions:

Document Scanning & Indexing
The scanning function will allow the user scan a document and enter index information about the document. Index data is used at a later time to retrieve the desired electronic document (i.e. docket #, name of party, type of document, township, date, etc.). After completing the scanning/indexing process, the electronic image of the document and its index data are saved into the system’s database.


Document Retrieval/View/Print
This function will allow a user to query the database via any of the index fields – i.e. docket #, last name, date of death, address, etc. After entering their query information, the program queries the database and return a screen of results that lists all the documents in the database that match the user’s query parameters. The user will select a document and view the electronic image of the document. The user will also be able to print the document. For the general public and outside professional users (i.e. attorney firms, title search firms) the system can generate a fee for the hardcopy printout of documents.


Copy Images to CD Utility
This function will allow a staff person to copy electronic documents for a range of dates to a CD. The CD can be used for off site archival and delivery to a third party vendor for microfilm creation, if required.


Rapid Implementation and Ease of Use
The system is designed for ease of use, with an intuitive user interface that requires minimal training. In fact, the document searching process, which is widely used by the public, requires virtually no training due to its intuitive design.