An estimated 50 percent of Americans will have an extended period of disability during their lives.

Financial advisers say arrangements should be made for someone to sign your checks, sell your car or arrange a loan if you become disabled.If arrangements haven't been made, they point out, family members might end up in a costly court battle.

A durable general power of attorney authorizes someone you name a wide variety of powers. Simply fill it in, name a person as the agent and have it witnessed and notarized. That person then has the right to act for you in the event of a disabling accident or illness.