Today it seems all the rage to seek out your “roots” and it’s easier to do than ever thanks to modern technology.  This genealogical research can be a fun family activity, too!

Do You Really Know Where You’re From?

Your DNA can be used to determine your ethnic background and family’s country of origin (see  You may even identify members of many branches of your family tree going back for generations (  You can also trace where your ancestors likely lived and migrated simply by inputting your last name into the computer (

(This last one was really interesting for me.  My family has a last name we always thought was an “Ellis Island name” made up and written down phonetically by an immigration officer, based on it sounding like our Russian name “Cavitch.”  However, I was surprised to find I could trace the name “Kavesh” back to Palestine, my family’s most probable place of origin, through the Arabian peninsula to India (where they apparently, based upon local records I also learned about, lived for a number of generations and adopted a popular Indian first name), then traveled to Iran and Russia, from which they came to the U.S. around 1905.  That all makes sense, since over the years I’ve had clients tell me that they knew of my name from having grown up in every one of those different places!)

And What About This Interesting Factoid: 

Where’s Your Accent From?

Almost all of our families migrated to this country from somewhere else, but once they got here where did they settle (or where did you grow up) - - before you wound up in California? Are you sure?

If you or your parents moved to this state, here’s another really interesting and entertaining quiz you may want to take.   One that pinpoints where your spoken language, in particular yor dialect of American English, is from.  (

(I’ve lived in a lot of places in the U.S. and thought I would surely “stump” this quiz giving from determining where I was from.  In fact, most people who know me and have guessed where I’m from based on my accent have almost always been wrong!  Well, the dark red “sweet spot” on the results map I got back, to my amazement, identified me exactly as coming from Southern New Jersey, where we speak an odd blend of New Yawk, Philly and Virginie twang that almost always confuses listeners!)

Yes, I’ve Got To Do It!

If you’ve read many of my previous articles, you may be wondering and waiting to see how I’ll tie all this back to estate planning.

These kinds of family investigations are fun and are a great opportunity during this holiday season to explore your family’s past and pass on a legacy of great stories that may live on in the future - - you know, the truly enduring “stuff” of life we can never adequately convey in the legalese of your estate plan!

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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