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Power of Attorney

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POWER OF ATTORNEY. An instrument authorizing a person to act as the agent or attorney of the person granting it. It is often called letter of attorney.

A general power authorizes the agent to act generally in behalf of the principal.

A special power is one limited to particu lar acts.

It may be by parol or under seal. 1 Pars. Contr. 94. It is held that, ea, vi termini, it indicates a sealed instrument ; Cutler v. Ha ven, 8 Pick. (Mass.) 490. The attorney can not, in general, execute a sealed instrument so as to bind his principal, unless the power be under seal ; 2 B. & P. 338; 5 B. & C. 355; Stetson v. Patten, 2 Greenl. (Me.) 358, 11 Am. Dee. 111. See Bank of Columbia v. Patter son, 7 era. (U. S.) 299, 3 L. Ed. 351; Darst v. Roth, 4 Wash. C. C. 471, Fed. Cas. No. 3,582; Randall v. Van Vechten, 19 Johns. (N. Y.) 60, 10 Am. Dec. 193; Damon v. Granby, 2 Pick. (Mass.) 345.

Powers of attorney are strictly construed; Wood v. Goodridge, 6 Cush. (Mass.) 117, D2 Am. Dec. 771; Mechanics' Bank v. Bank, 5 Wheat. (U. S.) 326, 5 L. Ed. 100; 8 M. & W. 806. General terms used with reference to a particular subject-matter are presumed to be used in subordination to that matter ; 7 B. & C. 278; Kelley v. Lindsey, 7 Gray (Mass.) 287. See, as to a power to collect a debt ; Barlow v. Reno, 1 Blackf. (Ind.) 252; to settle a claim; 5 M. & W. 645; Miller v. Edmonston, 8 Blackf. (Ind.) 291; to make an adjustment of all claims ; Rossiter v. Ros siter, 8 Wend. (N. Y.) 494, 24 Am. Dec. 62 ; Taylor v. Robinson, 14 Cal. 399; to accept bills; 7 B. & C. 278.

Where a power of attorney is executed in a foreign country in 'the language of that country, the intention of the writer is to be ascertained by evidence of competent translators and experts, including, if neces sary, lawyers of the country, as to the mean ing of the language used; and if, according to such evidence, the intention appears to be that the authority shall be acted upon in other countries, the extent of the authority in any country in which the authority is act ed upon must be determined by the law of that country ; [1891] 1 Q. B. 79.

Third parties dealing with an agent on the basis of a written letter of attorney are not prejudiced by any private instructions from the principal to the agent, unless such instructions are in some way referred to in the letter ; 3 Term 757; Earp v. Richardson, 81 N. C. 5 ; Silliman v. R. Co., 27 Gratt. (Va.) 119. Where an agent is acting under such a written letter, it is the duty of third per sons to examine the instrument ; Story, Ag. § 72. A failure to do this precludes a re covery unless the claim is based on fraud; Schimmelpennich v. Bayard, 1 Pet. (U. S.) 264, 7 L. td. 138; Whart. Ag. § 227; Appeal of Weise, 72 Pa. 351 ; Equitable Life Assur. Soc. v. Poe, 53 Md. 28. When a power of at torney is to a partnership as such, a deed executed in the partnership name by one of the partners is good; Frost v. Cattle Co., 81 Tex. 505, 17 S. W. 52, 26 Am. St. Rep. 831.

A power of attorney to convey lands is im mediately revoked by the death of the prin cipal, and deeds subsequently made by the attorney are void; MeClaskey v. Barr, 50 Fed. 712 ; and upon the death of some of the donors of a power of attorney, it is revoked as to them if not as to all; Hanrick v. Patrick, 119 U. S. 156, 7 Sup. 147, 30 L. Ed. 396.

If a power of attorney is part of a contract and is a security for the payment of money or the performance of an act, it is irrevoca ble, whether so expressed or not ; Wood v. Kerkeslager, 225 Pa. 296, 74 Atl. 174.

See PRINCIPAL AND AGENT.